ANDY BESHEAR VIRUS BRIEFING 3-29-2020 1.jpeg
FILE - In this March 29, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a media conference on the coronavirus at the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. Kentucky's Democratic governor vetoed legislation Friday, April 24, 2020, that would have given the state's anti-abortion attorney general new authority to regulate abortion clinics. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky has seen its second-highest number of daily COVID-19 cases as Gov. Andy Beshear announced 674 new coronavirus infections Tuesday.

That puts the state's total at 24,060, he said.

"If we can get this thing under control, it will make what we can do in schools so much easier, but we need your buy-in to do it," Beshear said.

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Three additional deaths were recorded Tuesday, Beshear said. In all, 674 Kentuckians who have tested positive for COVID-19 have died during the global pandemic.

The escalation in Kentucky's COVID-19 cases comes as school districts throughout the state prepare to reopen for the 2020-21 year.

The Kentucky Board of Education has passed emergency regulations to give school districts greater funding flexibility and grant them unlimited days of nontraditional instruction, two provisions that Beshear has said will be jeopardized if his executive orders are nullified.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced Tuesday that districts will qualify for unlimited days of emergency leave if teachers and staff need to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19.

State lawmakers included a similar provision in an expired legislative relief package for school districts as they closed the 2019-20 school year with distance learning.

The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet is also in talks with public and private partners to expand wireless internet access in parts of Kentucky that need high-speed internet most, Coleman said.

As Congress crafts a second round of COVID-19 funding, Coleman says she has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education and Kentucky's congressional delegation urging them for state relief. Most of that money, she said, should be earmarked for schools as they prepare to reopen for the 2020-21 school year.

Funding must also be "adaptable" as districts determine the best ways they can safely resume classes, she said.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have suggested pulling federal funding from schools that don't reopen to in-person instruction in the fall.

The Jefferson County Board of Education is expected to vote Tuesday on a plan in which Kentucky's largest school district will begin the 2020-21 school year with at least six weeks of nontraditional instruction.

"If we have some school districts who decide that they want to go full digital, they should be able to apply their resources to increase technology and broadband access," Coleman said.

"If we have other schools and maybe in larger rural regions of the state who are going back in hybrid models in-person, that will allow them to be able to spend increased funding on transportation for additional bus routes and (personal protective equipment) for the folks that are in school."

Senate Republicans may link a second round of federal stimulus relief with resuming in-person instruction in their proposed spending package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a floor speech Tuesday, said their proposal will include $105 billion "so that educators have the resources they need to safely reopen."

"This country wants its kids back in the classroom this fall – learning, exploring, making friends," McConnell said. "Their educations depend on it. In some cases, their safety depends on it, and so do the livelihoods of working parents."

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