NOTE: Oldham County decided Monday evening to require masks. (WFPL map)
Nearly two-thirds of Kentucky school districts are not requiring masks in their buildings as the new school year begins, Jess Clark reports for WPFL in Louisville.
After surveying district websites and social media, Clark reports that “109 of Kentucky’s 171 school districts have said they will not mandate masks,” while 26 will require masking indoors and eight will require it in some circumstances. “Four districts had yet to determine their policy, and two dozen districts had no information publicly available on their website or social media pages.”
The federal and state governments have recommended, but not required, that masks be worn indoors by people who have been vaccinated for the coronavirus as well as those who have not been vaccinated. “Epidemiologists say, and research shows, mask mandates have been effective in curbing Covid-19,” Clark notes. “Last school year Gov. Andy Beshear mandated masks across the state, including in K-12 settings, and he faced a political backlash. This year, he hasn’t issued a mandate.”
Beshear said last week, “It sends a much more powerful message than us just doing it here from here in Frankfort,” but added that he would “watch the numbers” and that a mask mandate is “not off the table by any means.”
“Some parent groups are using social media to organize against local mask mandates,” Clark reports. “The Facebook group Let Them Learn in Kentucky, which formed in 2020 to oppose remote learning during the pandemic, has nearly 15,000 members. Now that all districts are required to hold in-person classes, the group has pivoted to oppose mask requirements.”
Mask mandates are more common in urban districts. In Knox County, in southeastern Kentucky, Clark reports that “teacher and parent Tammy Gray is frustrated that her district isn’t among those with mask mandates.” She told Clark, “As a parent and as a teacher, my goal is to keep my children—and that includes my students — healthy. And if it takes wearing a mask, I’m all for it. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to protect these children. I just do not understand it.”