coronavirus

Ryland Barton

Indiana University has announced that students, faculty and staff will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by the start of the fall semester.

Meanwhile, none of Kentucky’s public universities are requiring people to get vaccinated to return to campus, though they are strongly encouraging it.

IU officials say students and others should try to get the first dose of the vaccine by July 1 in order to meet the requirement by the start of class on Aug, 23.

IU President Michael McRobbie says the university plans to have an in-person fall semester with “mostly normal operations.”

Blake Farmer | WPLN

Tennessee has recorded 908 COVID cases among vaccinated residents. That’s roughly what scientists would have expected, even as they lauded how effective the COVID vaccines are.

By comparison, the state has recorded more than 150,000 COVID cases since anyone was fully vaccinated. So, the so-called “breakthroughs” represent just a fraction of 1% of the total cases, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects that the documented breakthrough cases probably represent an undercount. Most people who’ve been vaccinated likely wouldn’t show any symptoms and have no reason to get tested.

Fourteen people have died after getting the vaccines, but Dr. David Aronoff, director of infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says other factors were likely in play.

Kevin & Remi Mays

Colleges and universities across the country recently celebrated graduates from the spring class of 2021. Those degree-holders are entering a job market that looks to be improving, given the wide availability of effective COVID-19 vaccines.

That’s very different from the job market seen by those who graduated last year, as an unchecked pandemic was wreaking havoc on the economy. Many graduates from the class of 2020 have had their job prospects curtailed by the pandemic and are still figuring out how to move forward. 

One class of 2020 graduate from Western Kentucky University has been focusing on the positives during what she called her unexpected hiatus. 

  

LaRue County Schools FB

Summer break will be getting off to an early start for students in LaRue County. 

The school district says it will end the year four days early due to a bus driver shortage.

An online statement by the district says LaRue County schools will use four days of built up instructional time to wrap up the school year on Friday.  Otherwise, the shortage of bus drivers would have forced the district to move to virtual learning for the remaining days.  

Elisa Hanley, Branch Manager of Pupil Transportation for the Kentucky Department of Education, says the shortage has been coming for a while and is being felt nationwide.  She adds districts across Kentucky have been stepping up in unusual ways to finish the school year.

TN Photo Services

Tennessee’s governor is urging school districts to drop their mask requirements, even though most children remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.

Many school districts in Middle Tennessee are starting to reconsider their mask requirements — or at least they feel pressure from parents. Gov. Bill Lee says each district makes its own policies, but he’s hopeful they remove the requirement for face coverings.

“Science shows that children have very low risk for contracting COVID and for actually being sick as a result of it,” Lee told reporters on Monday, “so I’m hopeful that schools will make the decision not to require masks for their districts.”

Kentucky COVID Cases Continue To Drop

May 18, 2021
Mika Baumeister via Unsplash

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says COVID-19 cases have declined for three weeks in a row. In his Monday briefing on coronavirus, Beshear said the state is on track to do away with its mask mandate by June 11, but there will be exceptions.

Masks will still be required in health care settings and some businesses may also still require masks.   

“Some businesses in some areas are going to decide to keep masking requirements in place. You ought to respect them,” Beshear said. “That is their choice and if they are trying to provide that extra level of safety, you need to respect that. Carry your mask on you. Use it when you need to.” 

Lost River Cave

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the state will mirror CDC guidelines on COVID-19 announced this week, that people who are fully vaccinated do not need a mask or social distancing in most places.

Beshear said that on June 11 the state will return to 100% capacity for businesses, and no masks will be required for those who have had their shots. 

One popular tourism destination in Bowling Green is preparing to get back to normal.

Lost River Cave has had a silver lining during the pandemic. People flocked to the walking trails as outdoor spaces became a welcome , and safe, change from isolation and indoor restrictions. 

Worship online just isn't the same, even after a year of getting used to it. Yet widespread vaccinations haven't resolved all the questions of how to gather again, despite the eagerness of congregants to see each other again.

Churches have even upped their production quality. In a video produced for Facebook, the choir at the Temple Church in Nashville sings, spaced out, in the parking lot. Members like 73-year-old Rogers Buchanan watch the stream from their couches.

Kentucky Ending COVID-19 Restrictions June 11

May 14, 2021
screenshot

Kentucky will end the remaining COVID-19 restrictions beginning June 11, Gov. Andy Beshear said on Friday. 

On that date, the state will eliminate the mask mandate in most circumstances and restore all venues and events to 100% capacity limits. The additional month allows the opportunity for children ages 12-15 and others who have not yet been vaccinated to receive a shot before restrictions end, Beshear said.  

“Our war has been long. Our casualties have been heartbreaking, but victory is in sight and the end is near,” Beshear said. He later added, “let’s be clear, a return to full capacity could raise the risk of exposure to those not vaccinated, but the solution is to get your vaccine.”

Med Center Health

Kentuckians are fairly evenly split on whether schools and workplaces should require students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a poll the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky released Friday.

The poll found 47% of Kentuckians thought it would be a “good idea” to require the COVID-19 vaccine for students to attend in-person school, while 50% thought it would be a “bad idea.” 

Meanwhile, Kentuckians are slightly more favorable to the idea that businesses should require employees to get vaccinated before returning to work in person: 52% said they thought it was a “good idea,” while 44% said they thought it was a “bad idea.” 

The poll surveyed 807 adults by telephone between Feb. 11 and March 12 — before the Pfizer vaccine gained authorization for use in children ages 12-15. Researchers say the margin of error is 3.5%.

Sonja Byrd

School districts across Kentucky have to decide by June 1 if they will have a “do-over” year to give students a chance to make up for the academic losses caused by the changing schedules and virtual learning during the pandemic.  

Decisions are being made soon at two school districts in western Kentucky. 

The opportunity for a “do-over” year comes under Kentucky Senate Bill 128, officially called the Supplemental School Year Program, that was contained in a bill signed by Governor Andy Beshear in March.

Students had to request the do-over year by May 1. 


Jess Clark

The head of Warren County Public Schools says he doesn’t support the district offering students a “do over” school year

Kentucky lawmakers approved legislation this year allowing students to apply for an extra year to retake courses in response to school disruptions related to the pandemic.  The decision whether to give students the supplemental year was left up to local school boards, but the decision would have to apply uniformly for all requests.  

WCPS Superintendent Rob Clayton said those decisions are best made at the school level on an individual basis.

“Anytime a parent wishes to consider retaining their student, we engage in conversations to look at both the positives and potential unintended consequences," explained Clayton. "My primary concern with the bill is the fact that it’s all or none.”


Updated May 13, 2021 at 5:49 PM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small. The announcement marks a major milestone in the effort to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the new guidance Thursday.

"You can do things you stopped doing because of the pandemic," Walensky said.

John Boyle

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel has recommended the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12. The decision follows the Food and Drug Administration’s extension of the vaccine’s emergency use authorization for children 12 to 15 years old on May 10. 

The Ohio Valley ReSource asked Vince Venditto, an expert in vaccine design, about the Pfizer study data collected in participants ages 12 to 15. Venditto previously responded to listener questions about the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

  

J. Tyler Franklin

The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 may be given to children ages 12 to 15. Kentucky is preparing to make the vaccine available for children. 

Shortly before the FDA announced expanded use of the vaccine, Kentucky’s top public health official, Dr. Steven Stack, said studies showed that the vaccine was safe for children. 

“You could have some aches or a little fatigue, but kids bounce back very quickly, and it’s been very well tolerated,” Stack said. “Additionally, they have found that it has been, at least in the initial studies, 100% protective from serious illness.” 

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