Gov. Andy Beshear has signed a new executive order making certain health and safety guidelines mandatory for schools going back to in-person classes on Jan. 4. Beshear announced these measures on Monday. His order gives them the force of law.

The order constitutes a area of the “Healthy At School” guidelines mandatory. Previously these had only been recommendations. The document, developed by the Department of Public Health and the Kentucky Department of Education, is divided into “expectations” and “best practices.” The “expectations” become mandatory under Beshear's order. The following tips are mainly around mask-wearing, social distancing and cleaning.

Many of the expectations are flexible. For example, desks only have to be spaced 6 feet apart, if at all possible.

“If the physical space in the school does not allow for spacing students' desks 6 feet apart, space desks as far away as possible,” the expectations read.

The order also requires schools to allow high-risk employees to operate remotely if their county is in the orange or the red zone, and the high-risk employee hasn't yet had the coronavirus vaccine, or can't take it, as a result of health condition.

Under an order all public schools have to give you “meaningful virtual options for a lot of students,” and make sure those students have a similar use of rigorous instruction and coursework as they might have in-person. The virtual participation option can't possess a negative effect on a student's academic standing. Advanced courses and career and technical training must also be provided virtually.

Some districts have already announced intends to return the week of January 4th. However, while that is allowed, Beshear recommends districts hold back until January 11th, as health officials are concerned about a possible improvement in coronavirus after holiday gatherings.