Desks are arranged in a classroom at Panther Valley Elementary School, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Nesquehoning, Pa.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The start of school is less than a month away, and the Kentucky Department of Public Health is advising unvaccinated students, teachers and staff to wear a mask indoors this school year.

In new guidance released by the Kentucky Department of Education on Thursday afternoon, DPH laid out a nine-point plan to mitigate risk of COVID-19 spread in public schools as students return to in-person learning.

"Our educators are excited to be back in person with their students," said Eddie Campbell, president of the Kentucky Education Association. "They know the value of being in-person."

Beyond safety guidelines, the statewide teacher's union said teachers have an additional priority.

"Educators are going to have to rebuild relationships with students so that they feel safe, secure and comfortable to learn," Campbell said.

As schools navigate another version of "normal" this year, teachers are asking families to be understanding to the new social and emotional needs exacerbated by the pandemic.

"Patience from everyone to make sure that as we move back to in-person, that we meet (students') needs," Campbell said.

Among the new recommendations are:

  • Vaccination
    • Schools encourage teachers and staff to receive the vaccine
    • Schools host on-site vaccination clinics
  • Masks
    • Unvaccinated students, teachers and staff wear masks when inside
    • Required mask-wearing on all buses for anyone over the age of 2
    • Masks aren't necessary outdoors
  • Distancing
    • Recommended distancing of 3 feet for indoor area where everyone isn't vaccinated

To see the full guidance from the state, click here.

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