When classes resume next week in Christian County Public Schools, everyone except preschoolers and kindergarten students will be required to wear a mask.
The school board voted Thursday night in favor of COVID-19 safety protocols that require masks for students, staff and visitors in schools. Students must also wear a mask on buses.
Superintendent Chris Bentzel cited recommendations from the Kentucky Department of Public Health and the Christian County Health Department, district spokesman John Rittenhouse said in a news release.
Since the district does not require vaccinations, masks will be the main tool to prevent quarantines that follow infections.
The district outlined the state’s guidelines for quarantines. A close contact will not have to quarantine if that person is fully vaccinated and does not have COVID-19 symptoms. Also, quarantine will not be required if the person who tests positive and the close contact were both wearing a mask properly.
“Moving forward we will work with our health agencies to address the continued need for masking,” Bentzel said in the release. “Students and staff wearing masks is not a decision we take lightly, but it is a necessary step to prevent quarantines as we provide in-person instruction.”
Less than two weeks ago, the superintendent said the district would encourage but not require masks for anyone in the schools. On Monday, the district announced that masks would be required for district employees inside school buildings.
Officials cited a sharp increase in local COVID-19 cases following the decision at Thursday’s school board meeting for the shift.
Shortly before the meeting the health department had reported 168 new coronavirus cases in the past week — the most weekly cases confirmed since Feb 9.
Ten of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week were breakthrough cases, spokeswoman Amanda Sweeney Brunt said in a news release. A breakthrough case refers to someone who becomes infected with the virus two weeks or more after they were fully vaccinated.
Students return to the classroom on Aug. 11.