State legislature passes school COVID-19 bill, gets rid of statewide mask mandate in public schools

Posted at 4:59 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 18:40:58-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kentucky General Assembly has passed a bill that would eliminate the public school mask mandate that was put in place by the Kentucky Board of Education.

The Senate passed SB1, their version of the bill, on a 28-8 vote. The House also passed HB1, which mirrors the Senate bill, on a 70-25 vote.

The bill gives schools more flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. It would give schools 20 flexible remote learning days and create a "test-to-stay" program, so they can test out of quarantine. Students who are exposed to COVID-19 can stay in school as long as they continue to test negative each day.

State Sen. Max Wise sponsored the bill. He says the bill gives local school districts the ability to choose whether or not they want to require masks.

Not everyone agrees, including State Sen. Reggie Thomas. He called it a "life or death bill," saying it will put the lives of children at risk.

The bill now heads to Gov. Beshear's desk for his signature. The governor will likely veto the bill; however, Republicans wield supermajorities in Kentucky's legislature, giving them the votes to brush aside the veto.

Gov. Beshear called the special session to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic following a recent state Supreme Court decision, which limits the governor's powers during an emergency.