During Gov. Beshear’s press conference today, it was announced that masks will be required via Executive Order for students and school staff, regardless of vaccination status, in all Kentucky schools this fall.
The order, which took effect at 4 p.m. ET today (Aug. 10, 2021), is for a period of 30 days and is subject to renewal. It states:
1. All individuals – all teachers, staff, students, and visitors – must cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when indoors in all public and private preschool, Head Start, elementary, middle, and high schools (preschool through grade 12) in Kentucky, including but not limited to inside of vehicles used for transportation such as school buses, regardless of vaccination status.
2. All staff and visitors, and all children age 2 and older who are able to wear a face covering, must cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when indoors in all childcare settings in Kentucky, regardless of vaccination status.
3. The following are exempt from wearing face coverings:
- Children who are under age 2;
- Any person who is sleeping or unconscious, or who cannot otherwise remove the face covering on their own;
- Any person with disability, or a physical or mental impairment, that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering;
- Any person who is deaf or hard of hearing and is actively communicating, or any person who is actively communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, and is able to maintain a safe distance of six feet from all individuals who are not members of that person’s household;
- Any person engaged in work that a state or federal regulator has concluded would make wearing a face covering a risk to their health or safety;
- Any person who is seated and actively consuming food or beverage;
- Any person who is obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering in order to perform the service;
- Any person who is required to temporarily remove their face covering to confirm their identity or for security or screening purposes;
- Any person who is giving a speech or broadcast to an audience and is able to maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from all individuals who are not members of the person’s household;
- Any person who is in a swimming pool or other body of water indoors;
- Any person who is actively engaged in exercise while indoors in the settings described in this Order;
- Any person who is engaged in a lawful activity where federal or state law prohibits wearing a face covering.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH)’s Guidance for K-12 School Operations for In-Person Learning has also been updated to reflect this new mandate by the governor.
I also wanted to let you know that on Thursday morning (Aug, 12, 2021), there will be a special called meeting of both the Local Superintendents Advisory Council and the Kentucky Board of Education to review an emergency regulation on face coverings in school facilities.
As a reminder, we will hold our monthly Superintendents’ Webcast on Thursday (Aug. 12, 2021) from 2-4 p.m. ET. You can submit your questions in advance via this Google form.
Our agenda includes:
- Back to School COVID-19 Guidance
Dr. Jason E. Glass, Commissioner and Chief Learner, KDE
Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner, Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH)
Dr. Connie White, Deputy Commissioner, DPH
- Update on High School Athletics
Julian Tackett, Commissioner, Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA)
- Quarantined Employee Leave and Quarantined Student Attendance
Robin Kinney, Associate Commissioner, Office of Finance and Operations, KDE
- Communications Updates and Announcements
Toni Konz Tatman, Chief Communications Officer, KDE
Our primary goal with the mask mandate is to keep our students safe while prioritizing in-person learning, which our students both crave and need. We have been unambiguous that our guidance and decisions here at the department will be based on science and upon recommendations from public health organizations. Besides vaccinations (which our students under 12 are not yet eligible for), masking is one of the most effective virus mitigation strategies we can deploy. With strong and consistent precautions in place, Kentucky’s schools have proven that we can safely open for in-person instruction.
The governor’s executive order and the Kentucky Board of Education’s pending emergency regulation to require masking both put the health and learning of Kentucky’s children first and I support them unconditionally.
Jason E. Glass, Ed.D.
Commissioner of Education & Chief Learner
Kentucky Department of Education