The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released new guidance for school-related student travel on Feb. 16.

“COVID-19 School-Related Student Travel Considerations” includes several factors to be taken into consideration when planning any school-related student travel, except for Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) contests. Districts were cautioned that travel cancellations remain a very real possibility in the coming months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and there may be financial penalties may be associated with cancellations.

For student athletic contest-related travel, districts should refer to the travel guidance provided by the KHSAA.

The “Guidance on Safety Expectations and Best Practices for Kentucky Schools (K-12): Interim Guidance as of December 7, 2020” includes the expectation that schools must “[c]ancel field trips, assemblies, and other large group activities to avoid mixing students in large common areas. Adhere to the governor’s current guidance regarding group gatherings.” This expectation is in addition to revised travel guidance from the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) that discourages all out-of-state leisure travel until further notice.

The guidance from KDE is aimed at mitigating the risk of COVID-19 exposure in large group gatherings. School-related student trips undertaken by a limited number of socially distanced and supervised students are not prohibited, although it is KDE’s position that school-related student trips, both within Kentucky and out-of-state, are inadvisable until vaccinations against the virus are widespread.

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