LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio is recommending to the school board that all students, teachers and staff be required to wear masks inside when classes resume Aug. 11.

"I think, as a community, it's one step we have to take to make sure we stay in school," he said.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning at Zachary Taylor Elementary, Pollio said he is simply trying to follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health experts.

He said universal masking is the best way to ensure that students and staff can remain in class.

"There is no doubt, when you look at the guidance around contact tracing and quarantining, that wearing a mask even when vaccinated reduces the likelihood that you will have to quarantine," he said.

Pollio said it would be a huge challenge to try and determine who has gotten the vaccine and who has not. He said hopes the mask requirement does not remove the incentive for students to get the shot.

"The incentive with getting the vaccine is to prevent sickness and prevent the spread of the virus," he said.

But Pollio said he is expecting opposition from some parents.

"What I would say to our parents: If we value in-person education, if we want to keep kids in school 175 school days, if we want to make sure we eliminate any disruptions, then masking is greatly reducing that," he said.

Pollio said the mask mandate is not necessarily for the entire year. He said JCPS could change course if conditions change.

He said there will be a medical exception to the rule.

The board is expected to vote on Pollio's recommendation during its meeting Tuesday night at Central High School. Five of the seven school board members have told WDRB News that they support universal masking.

"After many discussions, it seems to be the best way to keep kids in school and lower not only transmissions but also the occurrence of quarantines of staff and students," District 7 Representative Sarah McIntosh said.

The board is also expected to vote on Pollio's recommendation that elementary students be offered a virtual option if parents are still not comfortable with sending a child to school. Middle and high school students already have a virtual option.

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