(LEX 18) — Several school districts across central Kentucky have made the decision to make mask-wearing inside schools optional.
Most school districts opted to keep the mask mandate in place last year after the GOP-led legislature empowered school boards to set their own masking policies.
While federal law still requires masks to be worn on buses, with COVID-19 cases going down statewide, many school districts are making mask-wearing optional on their grounds and facilities.
The following districts have either dropped their mask mandate or announced plans to do so in the near future:
Carlisle/Nicholas County: The Nicholas County Board of Education announced that masks will be optional for students and staff starting on Monday, February 28.
Cynthiana/Harrison County: The school district says they will make mask-wearing optional starting on Monday, February 28.
Danville/Boyle County: Masks are now optional for students and staff, but the school district highly encourages everyone to wear a mask while indoors.
Georgetown/Scott County: Masks will be optional for students and staff at all facilities and grounds of Scott County Schools starting on Monday, February 28.
Lawrenceburg/Anderson County: Anderson County Schools have moved to mask-optional for all district facilities and grounds.
Mt. Sterling/Montgomery County: Masks will be optional for students and staff beginning on Monday, February 28. Masks will still be required for students who attend the Montgomery County Area Technology Center or who take in-person dual credit classes on the MSU-Mt. Sterling campus.
Nicholasville/Jessamine County: The school district transitioned to optional mask-wearing this week. They say those who still want to wear a mask can continue to do so.
Paris/Bourbon County: Masks will no longer be required for students and staff. The district says they continue to recommend wearing masks but says it can be an individual or parental decision. All Bourbon County preschool students and staff members are still mandated to wear masks.
Winchester/Clark County: This week, the district said they're now moving to a "masking recommended" platform. Masks are still required in the Clark County Area Technology Center as students transition to their classes. Preschool students and staff will still be required to wear masks.
Other school districts outside of the Lexington viewing area (including Lewis, Greenup, Floyd, Pendleton, and Boyd Counties) have also announced masks are going to be optional inside their schools. Some districts have been mask-optional since the beginning of the semester, including Pulaski County.
Masks remain required for all students and staff in some local school districts, including Fayette County. Superintendent Dr. Demetrius Liggins told parents in a newsletter the week of February 14 that universal masking will continue to be the standard for FCPS.
Governor Andy Beshear said he believes it is "too soon" for school districts to drop their mask requirements.
"I know they're under a lot of pressure and we are headed in the right direction," Governor Beshear said earlier this week. "But you know, when it's just stopping to rain, it's still raining outside."
The House Education Committee recently passed a Republican-sponsored bill that would ban mask mandates in public schools and universities. HB 51 now moves to the full house for a vote.