TheMessenger | by Hannah Murphy | August 23, 2023
Article Highlights by DP News Staff
Just two weeks into the start of their school year, officials in Kentucky have called off school for the rest of the week “due to student and staff illness.”
The district of Lee County announced on Tuesday, August 22 that in-person classes, extra-curricular practices, and games in the district had been canceled for the remainder of the week.
Public Health Director for the Kentucky River District, Scott Lockard, told news outlets local to the area that there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the district. But COVID was not the singular driving factor in the district’s decision to temporarily close their doors.
“We’re seeing people who are testing negative for COVID who are still coming up positive for other respiratory illnesses,” Lockard said. “In Lee County, the attendance is at that level where they felt they needed to make the call to dismiss classes the rest of the week.” The school district contains two schools and serves just under 900 students, according to US World News & Report.
The district called off classes completely Tuesday and Wednesday, and is opting for Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) days that can be conducted at home instead on Thursday and Friday, according to the Lee County School District website.
The cancellation comes as COVID hospitalizations have increased week over week since late July, but still weeks ahead of what is traditionally considered cold and flu season in the United States — something that has the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department concerned.
“Between the flu, RSV and COVID, this could be a very serious fall and winter,” Kevin Hall, a representative of the health department, told the local NBC news affiliate Lex 18.
In addition to practicing good hygiene and hand washing, both Hall and Lockard recommended that those who are eligible to get the new COVID boosters do so when they become available. Pharma companies Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax have all stated that their latest round of boosters have been updated to target some of the most dominant variants of the virus that are currently circulating.
All boosters are currently awaiting the Food and Drug Administration’s approval, but once that happens, vaccine manufacturers have signaled that they are prepared to make the boosters available in the fall.