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Ky. officials mirror CDC guidance recommending everyone inside schools wear a mask

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:43 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky health officials strengthened their mask wearing recommendation for the upcoming school year.

Governor Andy Beshear says he wants to keep kids in the classroom, not at home watching on screen. He says everyone masking up is the answer.

On Monday, Governor Beshear recommended that school districts should require all unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor settings. During Thursday’s Team Kentucky Update, it was announced that the recommendation, which mirrors the CDC’s latest guidance, is for everyone inside schools to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

“With the delta variant spreading across the U.S. and only 62% of Kentuckians ages 18 or older vaccinated, right now our answer is: Masks plus vaccines equals victory over COVID,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are strong enough and resilient enough to do this. We are compassionate enough to know we have to do this.”

Again, these are only recommendations at this point. Many districts haven’t made a final decision yet. Some school districts have decided to leave the decision to the families.

“I can’t imagine what kind of liability a school system will face if the CDC told them something clearly, the state told them something clearly, and in the midst of a pandemic with the most aggressive variant yet. Knowing that most of their student body was not vaccinated, did not make the right decision,” Gov. Beshear said.

As of Thursday, vaccinated or not, state employees and visitors of executive branch buildings also have to wear the masks when they’re indoors, around other people.

We’re already hearing from leaders who say they refuse to follow the governor’s latest guidance.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says he’s against the mask mandate. He tweeted, ”we don’t need more threats from the governor. What we need is some kentucky common sense.”

Quarles also brought up shutdowns. Governor Beshear has not talked about another shutdown happening.

State Auditor Mike Harmon is also against the governor’s new rules. He told us Wednesday he thinks this move sends the wrong message. Harmon says this will discourage people from getting vaccinated.

The policy states anyone who doesn’t wear a mask when they’re required to could be removed and face consequences.

Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball also released a statement Thursday morning saying there is a very high vaccination rate among Treasury employees so her office will not require masking.

“They won’t face discipline, but they will face a much higher likelihood that, [if] they get Covid, they get really sick,” Gov. Beshear said.

The governor says daycares should be looking into mask requirements too. He says his office doesn’t have any formal recommendations for now.

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