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Kentucky Drops Mask Mandate For Schools

Students at Gutermuth Elementary demonstrate leaving a classroom six feet apart on Feb. 22, 2021.
Students at Gutermuth Elementary demonstrate leaving a classroom six feet apart on Feb. 22, 2021.

The Kentucky Department of Education dropped its COVID-19 guidance for schools Friday afternoon, in line with Gov. Andy Beshear’s decision to all state coronavirus restrictions beginning Friday.

“The use of cloth face coverings and social distancing measures are no longer mandated,” a Friday email from the Kentucky Department of Education reads.

Before the mandate ended, all students and staff were required to wear a mask in in-person school settings, unless they had a medical exemption. They also had to maintain distances of at least three feet from one another.

The state required schools to report positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff on a public dashboard, along with the number of students and staff quarantined. The department says that requirement is no longer in effect.

The guidelines were part of the department’s “Healthy At School” guidelines, which education officials crafted over many months with the state health department. Beshear made some of the guidelines mandatory in December. 

The Department of Education said now that the guidelines are rescinded, “school districts may, at their discretion, continue to implement appropriate mitigation strategies that align with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they work to respond to changing local conditions.”

However, schools are not required to follow CDC guidance.

While the CDC says vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most situations, the agency still recommends universal masking in K-12 settings “for at least the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic school year.”

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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