From the Desk of Commissioner Kevin C. Brown. An update for Kentucky's Families about the COVID-19 crisis and our schools, July 24, 2020

Dear Kentucky Public School Families:

As plans are being created for the upcoming school year, we are all struggling with how children will learn, remain safe and traverse an environment unlike one we have ever experienced. It’s a time when parents are trying to figure out whether their children will be taught at school or through non-traditional instruction from home, along with how their children will get to school and what they will do after school.

Over the past three months, Kentucky Department of Education staff have been working hard to release close to two dozen guidance documents that help school leaders decide how to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. While this guidance provides best practices and ideas, we must remember that flexibility is key as our carefully made plans may need to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. And there may not be much notice if COVID-19 infections sharply rise.

While we would like to be able to predict what will happen as the school year begins, we must always focus on what is best to keep students, staff and the community as safe as possible. This is the ever-changing environment we are living in as we await a vaccine. In the meantime, face masks are the best option to keep us from spreading the virus without knowing it. In fact, new research shows masks may protect us from getting sick if others around us are infected.

Please help me in modeling the good behavior of social distancing and wearing a face mask and ensure your children do the same. We all want our schools to reopen and our students and children to return to a more normal life. Face masks, social distancing and simply washing our hands can lower the rate of COVID-19 infections in our state. These practices give us a fighting chance of keeping our schools open.

All of this information is listed in the Healthy at School guidance, which now has been translated into the additional languages of Arabic, Chinese, Nepali, Somali and Spanish.

Thank you for protecting our children and our communities as we work together to reopen schools. Together we can make great strides to keep every child safe.