Madison and Franklin County Schools will not require masks for people in classrooms, while other Kentucky districts have postponed the first day of school due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
With school districts across the state having varying responses to an increase in cases and to the highly contagious Delta variant, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday that “our recommendation is as clear as it can be: school systems should mandate universal masking.”
“Every public health official is telling every Kentucky school system that they need universal masking, and some school systems are saying no,” said Beshear. “That means they are doing it in contradiction of all public health advice.”
Kentucky has seen 38 straight days of a rising positivity rate, which hit 9.77 percent on Monday.
With school starting Aug. 11, Fayette County Public Schools said on Tuesday that students and others will have to wear masks indoors.
In a statement on the Madison district website, Superintendent David Gilliam said the district will promote vaccination for all eligible individuals.
The district is recommending masks for all persons while indoors in all classroom and non-classroom settings.
“We will ... leave masking as a personal choice as long as attendance remains strong,” the statement said. “If we should see a decrease in attendance during a time when community transmission numbers are high, then we will begin to phase in additional mitigation strategies that will include mandatory masking, increased social distance, and restrictions on group gatherings.”
Madison requires masks on regular bus routes to and from school and physical distancing in classrooms “where not everyone is fully vaccinated.”
The Frankfort State-Journal reported that Franklin County Schools will recommend, but not require, that masks be worn in schools.
Franklin County Superintendent Mark Kopp made the recommendation at Monday’s board meeting, the newspaper reported.
Mask use will be mandated for everyone riding a bus in Franklin County.
“We do know the COVID situation does change,” Kopp said, according to the State-Journal. He said that after talking to health officials later, the decision not to require masks could change.
“But for now, we feel this is the best option for our district at this time, and we will continue to urge the wearing of masks and, more importantly, please get that vaccine. It is so incredibly important.”
Pineville Independent Schools officials said they recommend — but do not require — unvaccinated students and adults wear masks inside schools.
A few other Western Kentucky schools have also said they are not requiring masks in classrooms.
Meanwhile, the Ashland Daily Independent has reported that Carter County Schools postponed the start of school to Aug. 16 due to COVID cases, particularly in school-age children, rising in the county. Classes there had been set to begin Thursday.
The county has 38 school-aged individuals who have tested positive for the virus recently, Carter County Health Director Jeff Barker told that newspaper.
WYMT reported that Martin County Schools postponed the first day of the school year until Aug. 18, according to a district statement, “due to increased COVID cases in our county.”