FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — School boards in a growing number of Kentucky's school districts have extended mask requirements as the state struggles to curb one of the nation's worst COVID-19 surges.
So far, 136 of the state’s 171 public school districts have opted to continue requiring masks in schools. That's according to the Kentucky School Boards Association.
Kentucky's Republican-led legislature last week empowered school boards with setting masking policies in their districts. The legislature voted to scrap a statewide mask mandate for public schools and imposed a ban on any statewide mask rules until June 2023. As a result, the statewide mask mandate approved by the state school board ends Friday.
Gov. Andy Beshear has exhorted school leaders to keep mask requirements in place to protect students, staff and their communities. The Democratic governor used mask mandates to combat previous coronavirus surges, but lawmakers blocked his ability to take such unilateral action.
Kentucky has become a national virus hotspot with one of the highest rates of new cases.
School-age children are contracting the virus at a higher rate than any other age group in Kentucky, while the statewide vaccination rate among 12- to 17-year-olds is the lowest of any age group.