Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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July 13

The State Journal on the reopening plans for school districts in Kentucky's capital:

Parents and guardians of Franklin County Schools and Frankfort Independent Schools students have an important decision to make in the coming days — send their children back to school for in-person instruction or sign up for virtual learning to avoid the classroom altogether.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Kentucky, both local districts are allowing families to determine which schooling option works best for them.

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for reopening schools in the midst of a global pandemic. In fact, according to a survey of more than 4,000 FCS families, 54% preferred face-to-face instruction and 46% selected virtual learning.

Each family has a different set of circumstances — perhaps a relative with a compromised immune system resides in the home or a parent simply doesn’t feel comfortable sending a child to school until there is a vaccine for COVID-19 — and we appreciate school officials’ flexibility.

Though classes won’t resume until next month, families will need to make their decision soon so teachers and staff can start preparing to welcome students back. Opening day for FIS students is Aug. 3. The FCS Board of Education pushed students’ first day of classes back two weeks to Aug. 26.

When in-person classes resume locally, students and staff will need to adhere to strict health and safety guidelines. Face masks will be required and social distancing will be enforced. There will also be temperature checks and increased sanitization procedures.

School officials are also stressing that virtual learning is not the same as nontraditional instruction (NTI), which districts used to finish out the spring semester.

“If a parent chooses virtual learning, they have to have internet access to make it happen, and parental support at home is very much preferred,” FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp told The State Journal.

Teachers and staff are hoping to make virtual learning look more like in-person instruction. For instance, distance learning students will have the ability to watch the teacher give the lesson online.

Because schools can only accommodate a certain number of students in the building and be in compliance with health and safety criteria, FCS will be better able to determine how often students can attend in-person classes once families submit their learning choices. Kopp said if a vast majority of families select in-person instruction, then the district would need an alternative hybrid plan that would schedule certain students to attend classes on specific days.

We commend both districts for the work they have put in to develop their reopening plans — especially for allowing families to pick the option that is the best fit for them.

Online: https://www.state-journal.com

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July 12

The Bowling Green Daily News on a settlement that was reached following a 2019 fish kill in a Kentucky river:

The fish kill that happened in May 2019 on Clear Fork Creek and Gasper River should’ve never happened.

Those who have fished, camped or used Gasper for kayaking or canoeing know how beautiful these streams are and enjoy catching an array of fish out of them, not to mention the vast amount of wildlife you may see along these streams.

That beauty and the aquatic life changed for the worse in 2019 for what could be a good while when dead fish were discovered about 16 miles from the head of Clear Fork Creek.

On May 28, 2019, the Kentucky Division of Water recorded dissolved oxygen levels of 2 milligrams per liter in water samples collected along the river and Clear Fork Creek.

Further investigation from the division revealed elevated E. coli levels in the creek and river, as well as the presence of nitrogen and phosphorous.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources investigated and determined that Auburn feedlot owner Robert Woodward placed or caused to be placed manure and slurry that entered into Clear Fork Creek and Gasper River on May 27, 2019, causing 53,782 fish to be killed in Logan and Warren counties.

A notice of violation issued June 19, 2019, by the cabinet to Woodward Feed Lot said runoff from the site was observed to enter Clear Fork Creek, an animal carcass in an advanced state of decay was observed at the facility and liquid feed and distillery byproducts were sometimes provided to the animals there.

The notice of violation alleged the feedlot failed to implement an effective Agriculture Water Quality Plan, pollutants entered and contributed to the pollution of waters and the waters of the state were degraded.

In August, the state fish and wildlife department issued a letter of demand to Woodward for releasing a substance into public water that killed wildlife and requested he pay $32,740 within 10 working days from his receipt of the letter.

We did not feel the fine was unreasonable considering all the aquatic life that were killed in these two streams as well as the time it could take these streams to recover.

For the record, nobody on this editorial board knows Woodward, but we believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. We don’t believe, as Woodward has previously stated, that he intentionally tried to cause this massive fish kill, but he was ultimately found to be responsible by the state.

We recently learned a settlement has been reached between Woodward and the state over this massive fish kill.

We also have learned that a $10,000 cashiers check from Woodward was sent to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in May.

The settlement enables Woodward to avoid a lawsuit, bringing an end to formal proceedings against the feedlot, though it is uncertain when aquatic life in Clear Fork Creek and Gasper River will return to levels before the fish kill.

While it is great that Woodward gave the state some money for the fish that were killed on these two beautiful streams, the amount the state wanted and what he ultimately paid seem rather far apart.

With the amount of money for the replacement value of the fish and the associated response and investigative costs around $33,000, why did fish and wildlife settle for more than $20,000 less than it originally asked for?

In our opinion, fish and wildlife, who we have a tremendous amount of respect for the important work they do, let Woodward off with a slap on the wrist with this payment.

What’s even worse is no one can say with certainty when the fish and aquatic life will be completely back to normal in these waterways.

That is the really sad part of this whole unfortunate event.

Sometimes both parties have to evaluate the cost of litigation and make their decision based on that reality.

At the end of the day, we are glad the state got some money from Woodward, but we believe that as much time and taxpayers’ money that went into this investigation they should’ve stuck with their original number and collected on that instead of settling for a lot less as they did in this case.

Online: https://www.bgdailynews.com

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July 10

The Daily Independent on Kentucky's mask mandate:

In our rebellious society, the more we’re told to do something, the less likely we’ll do it.

Gov. Andy Beshear made an executive order that went into effect on July 10. We must wear masks in public in the commonwealth of Kentucky.

There’s something about our teenage-years attitude that sticks with us, because many of us had this initial response: Well, what if I don’t?

Beshear said he planned to give more details regarding the 30-day order, but usually the punishment for not heeding an executive order could include warnings and then fines.

Will we be fined for not wearing a mask in public?

Here’s our question: Why find out?

The primary pair of directions in the mandate are as follows:

— Wear masks in all indoor public spaces.

— Wear masks outdoors when social distance (6 feet apart) can’t be maintained.

In our view, the first part is much easier to follow than No. 2.

At this point, wearing a mask in a grocery store, convenient mart, pharmacy or even church should be common practice — simply considering it’s courteous to others. You’re truly protecting others more than you’re protecting yourself. For instance, if you’re an asymptomatic virus carrier holding the milk door open for an elderly lady at the supermarket, a mask will help prevent the transfer of the virus to that elderly lady, who could suffer much more devastating effects from COVID-19. So you’ve just accomplished two good deeds.

Granted, the outdoors part is tougher to which to adhere. Although it’s hot, many people don’t want to be holed up inside when the sun is shining and outdoor fun can be had — or work can be done.

Pay attention to the qualifier, though: when social distance can’t be maintained. In other words, let’s all use common sense.

Here’s how we can abide by the governor’s order:

— Think of others when you wear your mask. Don’t worry about how you look or how inconvenient it feels.

— Don’t breathe on each other. If you’re closer than 6 feet apart and want to chat with someone who isn’t a family member you’re around all the time, wear your mask.

— Wash your hands with soap and water often. Hand sanitizer is OK, but it’s not as effective.

— Be considerate. Remember the golden rule?

Politics aside, this is a public health issue. Whether or not we agree with the governor’s order is a moot point. Let’s look out for each other.

Online: https://www.dailyindependent.com