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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — In a news conference Friday, The Fayette County Board of Education announced new guidance to their COVID-19 policies for 2022.

Superintendent Demetrius Liggins, Ph.D. in K-16 Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Texas-Arlington, said the students have suffered through the pandemic both academically and emotionally. Their new plans hope to limit that.

Liggins said after the CDC visited Fayette County and conducted a report, their findings concluded that students and teachers catching COVID-19 at school was low.

“Less than 3% of students exposed at school ultimately were infected with COVID-19, and we had 0% of teachers and staff,” Liggins said.

One new update to the district is quarantining will not be required only if students and teachers are exposed to COVID-19 at school.

Universal masking continues to be enforced, proving the mask’s effectiveness.

“That’s something that is specific just to school exposes, but if it’s outside of schools, in terms of any other type of interaction even with other students, they would have to still follow quarantine guidelines,” Jessica Cobb, Community Health Officer with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department said.

Voluntary testing will be available to students and faculty starting next week, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Appointments are required.

However, even with this new guidance, it’s not changing the fact that teachers are still seeing staffing shortages and attendance down in the classrooms.

“We’re all doing the best we can. I just find it kind of crazy that at a time when numbers are at their highest, we’re pulling everything back,” Laura Hartke of the KY 120 Unified AFT said.

Hartke teaches kindergarten through fifth grade at Cardinal Valley Elementary. She said that while the teachers are informed of what The CDC data shows, their experience inside the schools feels different.

Hartke said the Board of Education has been responsive and hearing the teacher’s voices when suggesting solutions that are in everyone’s best interest.

Now, she said, the teachers want to turn to the community and ask for them to do their part in helping keep both the students and teachers healthy.

“We need the public’s help. This is the message we want to get out there, that we just need help from the community to mask up, wash hands, and socially distance, so we can stay in person. We just want to be safe.”

Laura Hartke, Fayette County Teacher & Member of KY 120 Unified AFT.

As of Friday, more resources have become available to the district.

In a Twitter post by KY Secretary of State Michael Adams, Senate Bill 25 was signed by Gov. Andy Beshear allowing 10 days of both nontraditional instructions for weather days and remote learning for COVID-19 to be used per campus for the school year.

Senate Bill 25, proposed back in September 2021, received the Governor’s signature Friday morning. (Danielle Miskell)

“The reason we consider in-person learning to be the best option, is we’ve discovered throughout the pandemic that obviously there were serious academic losses as well as socio/emotional losses. We know that being in school is the absolute best for our students, but at times that warrant that not being the case, we will definitely switch to remote,” Liggins said.