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Dr. Stack urges masking requirements in schools, districts vary in policies

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 18:21:20-05

PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The way the start of the 2022 spring semester looked in Kentucky schools depended on what district you were in.

Many districts opted to require masks, including the state's largest districts, Jefferson and Fayette.

Others, like Pulaski County Schools, Somerset Independent Schools, and Science Hill Independent School District have opted for a "masks optional" policy.

"Personally I am vaccinated and I just like to be able to choose," Pulaski County Schools senior Kiara Rollyson said. "It just makes me feel like I'm a little bit more in control of my life."

One parent of two kids in the same district agreed; she prefers having a choice.

"I believe people have the right to make their own decisions and you shouldn't be forced to do what you don't want to do," she said.

While both said they prefer masks being optional, they said if they were required they wouldn't necessarily fight the district either.

"I don't mind to if they need us to," Rollyson said.

"I'm not going to fight something that the school requires," the parent said.

The day when masking is required would come when the county's incident rate went above 25 out of 100,000 people. Currently, the State has the rate at 12.8. 

The Pulaski County superintendent wasn't available to do an interview in person but did talk to LEX 18 over the phone. When asked whether holiday partying and gathering changed the equation, Superintendent Patrick Richardson said no. They're sticking with the policy the Board of Education set that says as long as they're below that 25 incident rate, masks are optional.

Science Hill Independent School District Superintendent Jimmy Dyehouse said most of the parents in his small district do not want masks to be required. He said all parents have his cell phone number, and until he hears otherwise from them, the District will keep masks optional.

Somerset Independent Schools is also employing a mask optional policy. The superintendent said he is closely following the county's COVID numbers. He said he is constantly assessing the situation and evaluating whether the mask policy needs to change.

Meanwhile, during Monday's COVID press conference in Frankfort, Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky's Commissioner of Public Health, urged schools who don't have a mask requirement to put one into place.

"They've gotta wear these masks," Stack said. "I'm telling you if you open a school this week, and you're not requiring masks, you're gonna infect the whole building in the first two weeks. I mean, it's gonna happen that fast."