During last week’s special legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers passed bills that scrapped a statewide mask mandate for public schools and imposed a ban on any statewide mask rules until June 2023.
Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the mask-related language but Republican lawmakers overrode him before ending their three-day session.
The bills put the decision as to whether students and staff should be masked in the hands of local school boards, and with that, Christian County Public Schools released a statement on Monday afternoon that said masks will remain in place for the time being.
“On August 5th, the Christian County Board of Education approved a policy requiring anyone within a Christian County Public Schools facility to wear a face covering,” the statement read. “In an effort to limit quarantine absenteeism as required by the Kentucky Department of Public Health, this policy will remain in effect for the time being. It will be revisited and reassessed before we return to school from Fall Break on October 11th.”
On the latest CCPS COVID reporting data dashboard, which was released on Thursday, there was 22 active cases of COVID-19 among faculty and staff, 179 active student cases and 370 students quarantined because of close contact. Those were the numbers recorded while students and staff were required to wear masks.
Beshear said last week that wearing masks was the “best way” to keep children learning in classrooms.
“There is only one decision, one right answer where you don’t endanger children and your entire community,” he said. “This thing is burning through Kentucky like nothing that we have ever seen.”
The CCPS mask rule that was voted on before the current school year began requires students, staff and visitors to wear masks when indoors except when eating, drinking, or when able to maintain adequate social distance.
When the decision was made last month, superintendent Chris Bentzel said he and his staff had been in contact with the local health department, pediatricians and doctors at Jennie Stuart in order to get guidance on how to move forward with the safety of students in mind.
“I am not a medical professional,” Bentzel said prior to the school board vote to have students wear masks. “I lean on our medical professionals in our community and they have all told me that we need to mask up our students in the building. Every single one of them that we have talked to has said that.”
Unvaccinated students and staff who are masked in the building and socially distanced will not have to quarantine if they are around someone who tests positive for COVID-19, so wearing masks while in school will be a vital tool to keep students in class for in-person learning.