Several central Ky. school districts going mask optional
SCOTT COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - School districts in central Kentucky are announcing plans to transition to a mask optional plan for students and teachers.
Starting Feb. 28, Scott, Harrison, and Nicholas County Schools will no longer require masks.
There are several factors Scott County Superintendent Billy Parker said went into the decision. One being the drop in cases of COVID in the school district and the county. Over the weekend, just 16 cases were reported within the district. That, hospital rates, and input from local health officials gives school leaders the feeling they’re ready to ease the requirements.
For much of the last two school years, masks have been a required school supply. But as cases of COVID begin to bottom out, districts are starting to drop universal masking.
“We’ve really tried to focus on the fact that we were looking at the physical health of our students and staff, the mental health of our students and our staff, and student learning,” Parker said.
The call comes just a day after Governor Beshear said districts should continue with universal masking, and just hours after lawmakers first heard a bill that would prohibit districts from enforcing universal masking.
“We understand that regardless of how comfortable I might be with the decision, there are people all over the place on this,” Parker said. “There’s going to be people not comfortable with this decision.”
Just five weeks ago, there was a heated board meeting with parents calling for the mask mandate to end, and others urging the district to keep it. Superintendent Parker said the situation now vs. then is much different, which is why they made the change.
“It is kind of cliché, because really nothing has changed, and everything has changed. We’re looking at the same data points. However, what has changed is today, there’s 44 cases in our county. I couldn’t tell you the last time we only had 44 cases in our county,” Parker said.
In an email to the staff on Tuesday, Parker told them that the district will have KN95 masks available to any staff member wanting one when the universal masking ends.
Masks will still be required on school buses. That is a federal mandate the district has no control over. They’ll also be adjusting their plans for contact tracing and test-to-stay, now that universal masking won’t be in effect.
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