Majority of Kentucky school boards agree to keep mask mandates

Published 10:00 am Friday, September 17, 2021

School boards across Kentucky voted overwhelmingly in favor of continuing mask requirements in schools as coronavirus infections fueled by the delta variant continue to mount.

The statewide count showed that 165 of the state’s 171 public school districts decided to extend universal masking in schools, according to the Kentucky School Boards Association. Six districts opted to make mask-wearing optional.

The Republican-led legislature last week shifted masking decisions to local school leaders. A statewide mask mandate approved by the state school board ended Friday

Districts making mask-wearing optional are Science Hill Independent, Gallatin County, Burgin Independent, Hickman County, Mercer County and Clinton County, the school group’s count showed.

But there were caveats to some of those policies. In the Mercer County district, staff and students are “highly encouraged” to wear a mask in school. A spike in the district’s COVID-19 positivity rate for three straight days would trigger a masking requirement for at least a week.

In the Burgin district, masking will take place everywhere in school except when students are seated at their “personal workstation” in class and when they are seated for breakfast or lunch.

Gov. Andy Beshear lashed out Thursday at districts backing off universal masking requirements. Such decisions are “inexcusable” and endanger students and staff, he said.