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Kentucky governor pleads with schools to delay in-person instruction as coronavirus cases climb

Gov. Andy Beshear said the state recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, and in-person instruction remains unsafe.
Image: ANdy Beshear
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks at the state Capitol in Frankfort on March 29, 2020.Ryan C. Hermens / Lexington Herald-Leader via AP file

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear pleaded with schools on Wednesday not to defy his order to delay in-person instruction until Sept. 28 as coronavirus cases in the state continue to climb.

While announcing the state’s highest single-day total of new COVID-19 cases in a press conference, Beshear said he doesn’t “believe that we gamble or experiment with our kids."

"While we are desperate to get our kids back, I also want it to work," he said.

The governor announced a delay to in-person instruction on Monday, citing an uptick in cases in children among other reasons.

"In my very core, I want us to get back to in-person instruction, but to ask our kids to go in with all our teachers and faculty at a time when it's not safe, it's something that we can't ask of them, and I'm not willing to," Beshear said earlier this week, according to the Courier-Journal.

On Wednesday, the state recorded 1,163 new cases, including 39 in children under five. The governor also cited outbreaks elsewhere in the Southeast at schools open for in-person instruction, and said Kentucky needs time to learn from other states' mistakes.

But in an open letter published on Facebook on Tuesday, some Republican state senators criticized his “one size fits all” model and said local superintendents should get to decide how to teach their students.

“Over 100 local school districts were not given a chance to see if their in-person model may work,” the group of six senators wrote. “Surveys were taken, input was provided, and plans were developed only to see a ‘recommendation’ basically corner those superintendents into a box.”

Beshear said he is unlikely to shut down schools that don’t follow his order, unless a massive outbreak occurs.

As a father himself, he said he wishes kids would go back to school, but said it doesn’t yet feel safe.

“All we’re asking right now is one month to not make mistakes with the health of our children, their parents or teachers,” he said Wednesday.