During his Wednesday briefing last week Governor Beshear said he expects to extend the mandate again once the current order expires on September 10th, 2020. The requirement that every Kentuckian wear a mask when in public was mandated in early July, and Beshear extended for another 30 days in August because "it's working." "It baffles me how this has become any type of argument, or people say it's become political," Beshear said. "I've got a document from the White House saying we ought to have a mask mandate. They send it to me every week." Wearing a mask and staying six feet apart from others are the most important things people should be doing to control spread of the coronavirus, Beshear said.
"If we want to protect business, if we want to get our kids back in school, if we want to save lives, the No. 1 thing we need to do is wear a mask."
The state also released new guidance last week that would tighten the restrictions on wearing masks during school. Under the new guidance Kentucky students would wear masks inside schools all day even when they are six feet apart. Previous guidance said masks did not have to be worn if students and staff were six feet apart. The new guidance documents say the use of cloth face coverings, or masks, should be required by all students and staff at all times while in the building or on the school bus, unless there is a medical reason not to do that. Students and staff should only lower their masks while actively eating or drinking. Only when students are outside and additionally 6 feet from others are masks not required under the recommendation.
The guidance was updated based on a recommendation by the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Toni Konz Tatman. “We agree with the recommendation 100 percent,” said Kentucky Education Associate Commissioner Kelly Foster.
Foster said masks for kindergarteners and preschoolers will be a local decision. Several districts have already made this a requirement, a news release said. “Just a reminder, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says that anyone above the age of 2 can wear a mask safely,” said Foster.
Superintendents in the state were expected to discuss the new rule at a virtual meeting Tuesday afternoon. The Jackson County Sun reached out to Superintendent Mike Smith to provide an update; They responded with the following:
"As of August 31, 2020, the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Department of Public Health changed the guidance on face covering requirements for all Kentucky School Districts. Face coverings are now required for all students and staff at ALL times while in the building or on the bus; this does not apply to preschool and Kindergarten students. When school begins in-person for students in Jackson County Public Schools on Monday, September 28, 2020, per the KDE and KDH, students may only lower their face coverings while eating or drinking. They may also lower their face covering for outdoor recess when the 6 foot social distancing requirement may be obtained. Jackson County Public Schools plans to be in compliance with the new guidance."
Private schools are not under the purview of Kentucky Department of Education.