Christian County Public Schools made masks inside the buildings optional on Thursday at the regular school board meeting.
Superintendent Chris Bentzel made the recommendation to make masks optional after giving the “Healthy at School” report about the COVID-19 trends in the district.
“Right now, I believe the district is in a very good place,” Bentzel said. “The numbers are now nothing compared to the spike we saw in September.”
The district has seen new COVID-19 infections plateau in recent weeks and after consulting with local doctors, Bentzel said that now is the right time to make masks optional.
“We talked with local pediatricians and they thought it was a good time to try it out and see what the numbers look like between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Bentzel said. “It’s a three-week window and if we have to go back (to wearing masks), we can do that and we’ve got Christmas break as a reset as well.”
Since vaccines are now approved and available for children ages 5 and up, that also made it the right time.
“Why are we doing that now? It’s important to note that as of yesterday, all of our students have an opportunity to get vaccinated,” Bentzel said. “It’s out there and available if parents choose to do so. That layer of protection is available for all our students now.”
Feedback from the district stakeholders was also taken into consideration.
“A lot of the feedback that we got from our parents and students was that it was time to go to a mask option for our students,” Bentzel said. “I understand parents know what’s best for their kids. I’m not trying to be a parent to all the students of Christian County Public Schools. We just try to make the best decisions possible at the time. I think it’s time.”
Students and staff will still be allowed to wear masks in the buildings if they choose to do so.
“Masks are allowed,” Bentzel said. “It’s just an option. We’re not not saying you can’t wear them.”
Bentzel added that other measures meant to slow the spread of COIVD-19 will stay in place.
“We’ll always continue to offer the mitigation strategies of handwashing, social distancing when applicable, close contact quarantines... and stay on top of everything,” Bentzel said.
The change does not affect wearing masks on schools buses. Masks will continue to be mandatory on buses, since that is a federal mandate.
The board voted unanimously to approve the measure to lift the mask mandate. The motion also gave the superintendent the power to reimpose the mandate without a board vote if it becomes necessary to do so.