Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Sept. 15

The Daily Independent on local schools' plans to return to in-person learning:

On the same day Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky would introduce a color-coded system to guide schools as in-person instruction resumes — or, at least, nears a return — one local school system made a popular decision.

Russell Independent, along with several other area schools, will now offer in-person instruction starting Sept. 28, which is based on Beshear’s recommendation from last month.

The Daily Independent’s story on this subject induced happy reactions, including numerous likes and shares on Facebook.

Area parents seem to be ready to send their children backpacking back to school buildings.

How will Kentuckians and state schools adjust to the new color-coded metrics? That remains to be seen, but one could look to West Virginia for a potential blueprint.

Is this a “be careful what you wish for” scenario?

Things could turn at the drop of a hat — or at the rise of a virus.

A new dashboard, which will be accessible at kycovid19.ky.gov, will almost become like a snow-day tracker during a bad winter.

School leaders and parents alike will keep this tab open on their computers, refreshing constantly to know what the next day or week may bring.

If daily virus cases number one or fewer per 100,000 residents in a county, that county is green.

If cases number fewer than 10 (per 100,000), the county is yellow.

An orange county (not to be confused with a portion of California) will contain 10-25 cases per 100,000.

That’s when a county is nearing a danger zone, or at least a zone of possible change. At the orange level, that county’s schools must prepare for a return to strictly virtual learning.

Once a county hits red (25-plus cases per 100,000), in-person instruction, sports and extracurricular activities must be suspended immediately for the following week.

Keep in mind, if/when doing the math, Boyd County’s population is slightly less than 50,000, Greenup County’s is close to 35,000 and Carter County’s is just less than 30,000.

Schools will be expected to review the color level of its county at 8 p.m. every Thursday in an effort to determine the following week’s status.

While this will keep everyone on their toes, the best way to avoid a spike is to use your head, cover your face and wash your hands.

Online: https://www.dailyindependent.com

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Sept. 14

The Frankfort State Journal on a new Kentucky license plate design:

It’s been 14 years since the Kentucky legislature gave the Transportation Cabinet special permission to speed up the issuance of “Unbridled Spirit” license plates to replace what many Kentuckians dubbed the “Mr. Smiley” or “Teletubbies” license plate — a design that depicted a smiling, rising sun and the slogan “Kentucky: It’s that friendly.”

The design, which debuted in December 2002, was so unpopular that some drivers defaced or covered up the happy sun while others opted to pay more for specialty plates. In fact, sales of the Kentucky Horse Council license plate rose from around 3,000 in 2002 to more than 25,000 the following year because its image of a horse was preferable to the smiling sun.

But the lessons learned from that fiasco must still resonate with top officials, who unveiled a new, simpler state license plate on Friday.

Much like the current license plate, the new design gradually fades from white at the top to blue at the bottom and features an outline of the state in blue, but on the left rather than between the letters and numbers.

Noticeably gone is the Denver Bronco-lookalike horse head, and the words “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” written in script have been replaced with “Bluegrass State” in smaller letters above “Kentucky” in all caps.

Another major difference is that the license plates will be produced digitally on flat aluminum rather than embossed metal with raised letters and numbers.

Not only is the new license plate a welcome change from its predecessors, but the state will also save money because the plates will be printed as needed rather than mass produced — meaning KYTC won’t need to worry about or pay for unused inventory or storage space.

Under the current process, KYTC must account, store and handle hundreds of license plate types at more than 145 locations and two warehouses. The new technology will allow the requested number of plates to be shipped directly to county clerks’ offices.

The updated license plates, which are being printed at Intellectual Technologies Inc.’s Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant after outbreaks of COVID-19 at the Kentucky State Reformatory forced the temporary shutdown of production, will gradually replace the older plates.

The procedure to purchase license plates at county clerks’ offices will remain unchanged, as will the fees and lineup of available special plates.

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

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Sept. 11

The Bowling Green Daily News on the return of football seasons:

After months of wondering if (it) would ever actually arrive, it is really and truly here: High school and college football season in Kentucky is upon us, signaling the beginning of the fall sports season in earnest.

This, of course, will be a season unlike any that came before, and hopefully unlike any we’ll see again. Some of the traditions and much of the communal atmosphere of game day will be disrupted, or at least muted, by social-distancing requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond that, hovering over the season is the specter of the unknown – specifically whether virus-related circumstances locally or statewide will allow the truncated season to unfold in full, or whether leaders will blow the whistle when the schedule is only partially complete.

There might very well be such bridges to cross in the coming weeks, but (last) weekend – with a full slate of area prep games ... as well as Western Kentucky’s season opener at Louisville ... – should be about seizing the moment and making the most of occasions that not so long ago seemed doubtful.

As we wrote in a previous editorial, we believe the correct decision was made in allowing the fall prep sports season to proceed. With health precautions established and being followed, and with successful precedents being set by professional sports leagues in recent months, we currently see no compelling reason to deprive young athletes – in all fall sports, not just football – of the opportunity to pursue their passions. Again, if virus-related developments force reconsideration, we will welcome a sober discussion about the best path forward. But until that time comes, we are happy to see activity resume on our region’s athletic fields and courts.

Obviously, those who wish to experience a full fall season must do their part – namely by following all mask-wearing, attendance and social-distancing guidelines that have been put in place for specific sporting events. While avoiding coronavirus outbreaks among players and teams is a major point of focus, so too is avoiding outbreaks among spectators.

Reduced crowd sizes are a given on all competitive levels these days, but that alone is not enough: Attendees simply must do everything they can to limit the spread of the virus by adhering without complaint to safety restrictions at all venues. Make no mistake – outbreaks traced to attendees of fall sporting events potentially will torpedo the season just as quickly as outbreaks among participants.

We are hopeful, though, that all involved with the fall sports season care enough about the athletes to make a commitment to safety and prudence. Certainly, the games will look, sound and feel different this fall, as they probably will into the winter and spring seasons as well. But remember this: Different is better than nothing, so let’s embrace what we have and do our best to protect it.

Best of luck, and prayers for safety, to all of the players, coaches and their families this season.

Online: https://www.bgdailynews.com

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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