LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- School districts across Kentucky are making the decision whether or not to require masks in their buildings as Senate Bill 1 goes into effect Friday.
The bill will reverse the statewide school mask mandate put in place by the Kentucky Board of Education and leave the decision up to each individual district.
A map posted by the Kentucky School Boards Association shows more than 80% of the districts across the state will be keeping the masks on, as of Thursday afternoon.
As of noon Thursday, 81 percent of Kentucky's 171 school districts have announced they will continue to require all students, staff and visitors to wear masks after SB1 goes into effect on Friday eliminating the statewide mask mandate in Kentucky public schools. pic.twitter.com/9DZLXkbY57— KSBA (@ksbanews) September 16, 2021
Two districts in the Louisville area — Spencer and Adair counties — will decide Thursday night.
“If you are a school district that is not requiring universal masking, you are directly endangering the children, the staff, the faculty, everybody who is in each of your buildings, and it is an inexcusable decision,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during his Thursday briefing.
Bullitt County Schools Superintendent Jesse Bacon said he knows it is a hot-button issue but said masking is the best way to keep students and teachers in class, in-person.
“We do not want to go back to NTI, and so having a universal masking policy in place gave us the best chance to be able to continue with in-person learning for a sustained period of time,” Bacon said.
The Trimble County School District announced its decision Wednesday afternoon to keep masking. Superintendent Jessica Wilcoxson said the reason is the county’s high COVID-19 infection rate
“Our community is currently in the red, and so we don't feel as if it would be safe to remove the masks at this time,” she said.
Wilcoxson said her district will lift its mandate when the county's infection rate drops into the yellow zone and 10 or fewer of its 1,100 students are actively positive with the virus. She said those numbers will be monitored every week.
“So, at any time, the mask mandate would be able to be implemented very quickly to ensure that a spread is not taking place,” Wilcoxson said.
Bacon said a team of seven health experts will health decide when Bullitt County ends its mask requirement.
“We just want to make the right decision for our entire community moving forward,” Bacon said.
Both Bacon and Wilcoxson said they are glad the General Assembly did away with the mandate and gave the districts control of the masking decision.
“We are thankful that we are being given the opportunity, because we can then make decisions based on our school-specific data and based on Trimble County and the residents here,” Wilcoxson said.
“I also think it's very important to have great information from the experts in the field to help guide our decision-making process,” Bacon added.
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