Kentucky governor cancels executive order requiring students to wear masks in schools

Published 1:40 pm Monday, August 23, 2021

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has canceled his executive order requiring students to wear masks in schools.

The Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that Beshear filed paperwork Monday morning to cancel the order.

The cancellation comes after the Kentucky Supreme Court’s ruling on Saturday that cleared the way for new laws to rein in his emergency powers.

In a landmark separation-of-powers case, the Kentucky Supreme Court said the legislature wields policy-making authority to limit the emergency powers granted to the governor by state law.

The ruling ordered a lower court to dissolve an injunction that for months had blocked the Republican-backed laws from curbing Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive authority.

The order could dramatically alter the state’s response to the pandemic at a time when virus cases and hospitalizations have surged because of the highly contagious delta variant.

The governor’s office quickly warned of the impact. The Supreme Court order will dissolve Kentucky’s pandemic-related state of emergency, Beshear spokesperson Crystal Staley said Saturday. The next step is to determine whether lawmakers are willing to extend the state of emergency in a potential special session, she said.

“The governor has had the courage to make unpopular decisions in order to keep Kentuckians safe,” Staley said in a statement. “The court has removed much of his ability to do so moving forward. If called in to a special session, we hope the General Assembly would do the right thing.”