Multiple Ky. schools close due to illness at start of new year

In the first weeks of the academic year, multiple Kentucky school districts are already feeling the impacts of COVID-19.
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 9:35 PM EDT
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MAGOFFIN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - In the first weeks of the academic year, multiple Kentucky school districts are already feeling the impacts of COVID-19.

Magoffin County Schools is less than two weeks into the new year, yet illness has already caught up to their student body.

The district announced that all schools will be closed on Thursday and Friday due to illness.

All schools will be closed in Magoffin County on Thursday and Friday (8/24 & 8/25) due to widespread illness. These will not be NTI days.

Posted by Magoffin County Schools on Wednesday, August 23, 2023

“We were seeing an uptick of absentees. They were saying COVID, but they were also putting strep throat in there, and there was a virus going around, a stomach virus,” said Magoffin County Health Department Director Pete Shepherd.

Shepherd says it started as a combination of illnesses, but now, COVID has risen above the rest.

“The last month before school, we hardly gave out any home tests. We started giving them out again, and we can’t get them fast enough to give them out,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd says the district confirmed at least 40 cases on Monday and Tuesday alone, with many others testing at home and keeping their kids out of school.

The uptick comes in advance of a new vaccine being rolled out to combat the latest COVID strain. It’s one which Shepherd doesn’t see his county taking much interest in...

“Most parents are just... their kids are going to get sick with it, we’ll hold them home and won’t send them to school. They’re not worried about vaccinations,” Shepherd said. “We can’t hardly give a vaccine away now for COVID.”

He added that’s partly due to the fact that they are only seeing mild cases at this point. But Shepherd wants students and people at risk to be careful as these diseases continue to spread.

“They are resilient, and they’re not getting us sick, so that’s the good thing, but we can always take precautions,” said Shepherd.

Shepherd says those simple precautions should include washing your hands...and staying home when you’re sick. However, Dr. Steven Stack says everyone should consider the new vaccine as well once it’s available.

Baptist Health and UK Healthcare say they have nine and 22 COVID-19 patients, respectively.

Lee County Schools also closed due to illness this week.

Laurel County is also tracking a rise in cases from school-aged kids.

The Woodford County Health Department is tracking an increase in COVID cases as well