Gov. Andy Beshear asks Kentucky superintendents to begin preparation for COVID-19 vaccination

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Graphic reading: Governor's Call with Superintendents, December 4, 2020

  • While Beshear is unsure when educators will begin receiving the vaccines, he asked the superintendents to begin preparing rosters of school personnel who are willing to be vaccinated.
  • Once the conversation begins about vaccines and how they will be distributed, Beshear said the harsh realities of the virus can become avoidable.

By Jacob Perkins
Jacob.perkins@education.ky.gov

Gov. Andy Beshear met virtually with Kentucky’s superintendents on Dec. 4 to ask them to begin planning for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the state’s education community.

Beshear expects the Pfizer two-dose vaccine to become available by Dec. 15 and anticipates Kentucky receiving 38,000 doses in the first round of distribution. The initial doses will go to healthcare providers and nursing home residents and staff, though there won’t be enough to vaccinate them all.

The good news is two weeks later, the state will receive the shipment of the Moderna vaccinations, which is twice as many as the first Pfizer delivery, Beshear said.

After healthcare providers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities, the Commonwealth then will prioritize EMS workers and educators.

“That recognizes the exposure (to the virus) that educators have within the building,” Beshear said. “But it also recognizes the absolute critical importance of what they do and how much better in-person classes are.”

While Beshear is unsure when educators will begin receiving the vaccines, he asked the superintendents to begin preparing rosters of school personnel who are willing to be vaccinated. Though the vaccines are distributed at the federal level, states direct where they need to go, Beshear said.

Since the goal is to make schools as safe as possible, Beshear said all school staff who are willing to be vaccinated should be included on the rosters. However, since it is unlikely that one shipment of vaccines will cover everyone within a school, districts still should consider prioritizing those who have a higher chance of exposure to the virus, Beshear said.

The Kentucky Department of Education anticipates collaborating with the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the governor’s office to provide additional guidance to districts about vaccine distribution before their winter break.

“This is great news,” said Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “It’s exciting to think about the beginning of the end of what has been a really difficult period for all of us.”

The call with superintendents came one day after Beshear announced 3,895 new positive COVID-19 cases, Kentucky’s second-highest daily total. Of those, 416 were children age 18 and under.

During Beshear’s Dec. 3 press conference, he reported that 113 of Kentucky’s 120 counties currently are in the red zone for positive cases. According to the executive order that suspended in-person instruction effective Nov. 23, elementary schools (grades K-5) are allowed to reopen for in-person instruction beginning Dec. 7. However, schools still must follow all the safety expectations found in the Healthy at School guidance document and cannot be in a red zone county.

As of Dec. 4, the seven counties that are not in the red are Adair, Breathitt, Breckinridge, Crittenden, Green, Nicholas and Russell.

Beshear wrapped up his call by reminding the superintendents of the importance of modeling healthy behaviors and compliance with mask mandates within their local communities. Once the conversation about vaccines and how they will be distributed begins, Beshear said the harsh realities of the virus can become avoidable.

“I’m certainly committed to making sure that we fight that one really hard, and we need your help to do that,” he said.

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