As the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across the state, Governor Andy Beshear announced new recommendations for mask usage in Kentucky schools. The announcement was part of a press briefing on Monday, July 26.
“Our priority is our kids,” said Gov. Beshear. “How we make decisions has to come from one simple place: What gives us the best chance to have our kids in school the maximum number of days in the midst of a pandemic? That is our North Star.”
The recent uptick in cases involving the Delta variant led to the recommendations, according to the governor's office. That variant is much more contagious, and contains a higher virus load, than its predecessors. If that variant begins spreading in a classroom setting, it could cause the school to have to close for a time to stop the spread.
There are three recommendations that school systems should strongly consider following:
— School districts should require all unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings;
— School districts should require all students under 12 years of age to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings; and
— School districts wishing to optimize safety and minimize risk of educational and athletic disruption should require all students and all adults to wear a mask while in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
Also announced at the press conference was a new program to provide free COVID testing for schools, both public and private. The program is funded by a $134 million grant from the Federal government.