FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban mandating face masks in public schools and universities.
House Bill 51 passed 56-35. Several Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the bill, saying they don't support eliminating local control.
The bill would make wearing face masks optional in schools. The bill would also give parents the ability to opt out of daycare mask requirements. The legislation states that a child care center's license cannot be revoked for refusing to require masks, and they cannot be penalized nor fined by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Lawmakers previously ended mask requirements at public schools statewide during September's special session. Republicans argued at the time that local school boards should ultimately make that decision. As a result, most of Kentucky's school districts chose to keep the mask requirement in place, but some districts said they'd drop the mandate and make mask-wearing optional should case numbers go down.
Now, many have reversed course as House Bill 51 aims to take that decision-making power away from the districts.
Bechler says the bill would give parents the right to decide for their children.
"We are empowering parents to decide whether or not their own kids wear a mask," said Rep. Bechler. "It’s a well-known fact a one size fits all approach does not work. The data shows us children are least likely to catch, spread or suffer from COVID-19, and keeping them masked has had little to no effect these last few years."