Gov. Andy Beshear wants unvaccinated students and adults to wear a mask in school when classes resume at districts across the state in the coming weeks.
“Our priority is our kids,” Beshear said Monday. “How we make decisions has to come from one simple place: What gives us the best chance to have our kids in school the maximum number of days in the midst of a pandemic? That is our North Star.”
Beshear stressed the need to protect Kentuckians of all ages against the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The Delta variant spreads “quickly and aggressively” among unvaccinated people, the governor said. Without mitigation efforts, he added, state officials predict the spread will result in “large, frequent quarantines of students and staff.”
The governor’s recommendations include:
- School districts should require all unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
- School districts should require all students under 12 years of age to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
- School districts wishing to optimize safety and minimize risk of educational and athletic disruption should require all students and all adults to wear a mask while in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the state will use federal funding to provide COVID-19 testing in schools.
“We’ve been given $134 million by the federal government to create a testing program for K-12 schools, public and private, throughout the entire commonwealth,” Stack said. “I urge everyone who operates a school out there to explore the options and make testing available to keep yourselves safe.”
Participation is voluntary and will be available for the entire school year.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass and state school board Chairman Lu Young joined Beshear and Stack to announce the mask recommendations and testing options.
“Those working in and learning in our schools know what to do to keep in-person learning going and to do so safely. We have already definitively proven that,” Glass said. “Now as conditions have shifted again with the rise of the Delta variant and reinfections, we need to call once again upon your courage, dedication and commitment to keep our schools open for school this fall.”
Young said, “I want to thank elected school board officials for consistently rising to the challenges that we’ve faced throughout this pandemic. You have maintained a laser-like focus on the best interests, safety and health of the children in our districts and you’ve proven that we can put these kind of return-to-school guidelines in place successfully.”
Christian County Public Schools will announce plans related to the coronavirus on Tuesday, spokesman John Rittenhouse told Hoptown Chronicle. He said the district COVID-19 task force met Monday.