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School Plans Change

Governor’s executive order requires masks for students/staff returning to school

By Eugenia Jones

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s executive order requiring all students two years and older, as well as staff, teachers, and visitors  to wear face coverings while indoors at school forced the McCreary County School District to make last minute changes to their original plan of not requiring face coverings for students and staff returning to school next week.  Although the McCreary County School District’s original plan did not require face coverings at school, it did require masks be worn on school buses and allowed students and staff to wear masks throughout the day at school if they so desired.  The governor’s executive order requiring masks when indoors applies to both public and private schools including preschool, Head Start, elementary, middle, and high schools.

“It was our desire to allow parents to choose whether or not to have their children wear masks,” McCreary County School District Superintendent Corey Keith said.  “However, pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order, we are now requiring them indoors on our campuses.”

The executive order went into effect at 4:00 p.m. on August 10 and continues for a period of thirty days.  The order is subject to renewal. 

However, the Kentucky General Assembly passed measure earlier this year limiting the governor’s authority to renew executive orders without legislative approval.  The legality of those measures restricting the Governor’s power must still be determined in court.

Speaker David Osborne issued a statement in response to Governor Andy Beshear’s announcement about the executive order requiring masks and face coverings for Kentucky’s public and private schools, preschools, and child care facilities. 

“The Kentucky General Assembly spoke clearly and indisputably when we passed HB 1, SB 1, SB 2, and HJR 77,” Osborne’s statement declared.   “These measures strengthened state law to better reflect the separation of powers called for in our state constitution and empowered school boards, local governments and other entities to take the actions they deem necessary in situations like this. And, until the Supreme Court of Kentucky rules on the Governor’s challenge to these measures, this issue remains unresolved. It is their unwillingness to act that has left so much in limbo.” The Governor’s mask mandate for schools comes as COVID-19 cases throughout Kentucky are spiking. The Lake Cumberland District Health Department’s COVID 19 brief for Tuesday (August 10) showed McCreary County adding eleven new daily cases for a current total of 96 active cases.  A record number of 61 new cases was added to McCreary County’s total on Friday (August 6.)  Currently, the vaccination rate for McCreary County is 26.08%. 

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