Kentucky lawmakers scrap statewide mask mandate in schools

Owensboro Public Schools to still require masks
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 7:10 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 12:02 PM CDT
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KENTUCKY (WFIE) - Republican lawmakers in Kentucky voted in a special session to scrap a statewide mask mandate in schools.

The GOP-dominated legislature passed the pandemic measure Thursday during the third day of a special session.

“The legislature owns this pandemic moving forward,” says Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

The bill approved Thursday sets education policies in response to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

Another bill winning final passage would impose an extended ban to any statewide mask mandate, leaving the decision up to local governments and businesses.

Beshear responded by vetoing the mask provisions in both bills late Thursday night.

Republican lawmakers overrode the vetoes before ending the special session.

Governor Beshear held a press briefing Friday afternoon after lawmakers voted to get rid of the statewide mask mandate in schools.

“If I still had the authority, we would be masking indoors,” Beshear said. “The inability to take this step and all of its ramifications, or even its devastation, falls squarely on the legislature.”

He did say some good things came out of the special session, such as the extension of the state of emergency.

During his briefing, Beshear announced that a 19-year-old from Daviess County died from COVID-19, and hospitals throughout the state are “at a breaking point.”

He also said the state only has 93 available ICU beds throughout the Commonwealth.

You can watch his full press conference below.

Despite the decision, Owensboro Public Schools say they will continue to require masks regardless of vaccination status.

OPS Public Information Officer Jared Revlett says that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for schools.

“I think originally a lot of school districts across the state kind of said we’re okay with the mandate for an extended period of time, but we ultimately want to be able to have some local control,” Revlett said.

DCPS Superintendent, Matt Robbins says they will continue to require the universal masking with a plan to re-evaluate their status by Friday, October 22. That will be two weeks after their fall break, and will include monitoring transmission and positivity rates in the community.

Henderson County Schools released a statement saying they will remain masked, and will seek input from advisory groups made up of students, parents, teachers and staff.

In a post, officials say masking and other safety protocols in the district limit the number of quarantines and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

They say these measures allow schools to continue in a safe manner.

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