Education bill dealing with COVID moves forward in Frankfort

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 11:37 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The state legislature is quickly moving through several COVID related bills.

On Wednesday, one education bill was tweaked in the Senate, and another failed in a House committee, but the House version was revised and discussed again late Wednesday afternoon.

Both House and Senate education committees took up similar versions of pretty much the same bill, which gives more control to local districts regarding masks and non-tradition (NTI) education.

Amendments were added to an education bill that cleared a Senate panel earlier this week. It’s a bill that removes a requirement that all Kentucky students and school staff wear masks.

“We felt it was in the best interest to get us back to local decision making. We want to make the Kentucky Department of Education decision null and void and get back to local decisions,” Sen. Max Wise said.

A new version passed Tuesday takes out an incentive program for vaccines at schools. The chairman says many districts already do this. Some Democrats are questioning if the bill’s new plan for quarantines or NTI, called “test to stay” is affordable.

“Anywhere from $16 to $60 million per day. Right now we don’t have the resources to do that,” Sen. Reggie Thomas said.

If passed, school districts would have 20 remote learning days and 10 NTI days to use.

“We think there’s flexibility built within. The whole process gets down to quarantining, trying to fix an issue there that’s causing so many absentees, going into necessary and unnecessary quarantines,” Sen. Wise said.

A House panel took up their bill Wednesday morning, but it was defeated. They made some changes and took it back up in the afternoon, and it was passed. Some lawmakers said it wasn’t perfect but they could make changes during the regular session in January.

Both House and Senate chambers will meet Thursday morning where some of these bills are expected to be voted on by the full body.

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