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Gov. Beshear announces back-to-school guidance on masks

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 4:07 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 3:19 PM CDT
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KENTUCKY (KFVS) - Governor Andy Beshear announced back-to-school guidance for kindergarten through 12th grades.

It includes the following recommendations:

  • School districts should require all unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings
  • School districts should require all students under 12 years of age to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings
  • School districts wishing to optimize safety and minimize risk of educational and athletic disruption should require all students and adults to wear a mask while in the classroom and other indoor school settings

He said if school districts don’t embrace mitigation efforts, they are not going to be in school every day.

Governor Beshear and state officials agreed Kentucky’s challenge is that the delta variant spreads quickly and aggressively among unvaccinated people of all ages.

Without mitigation efforts, they expect the Delta variant will spread through unvaccinated classrooms and throughout buildings resulting in large, frequent quarantines of students and staff.

Governor Beshear said the number of new cases of COVID-19 have gone up in the last few weeks.

  • 3 weeks ago - 1,844
  • 2 weeks ago - 3,217
  • Last week - 5,662

The state is on 30 straight days with an increasing positivity rate.

He said new cases are driven by unvaccinated people and the Delta variant.

“We would beat the Delta variant if everyone would get vaccinated,” he said.

The governor said vaccinations in the state have been up in the last week, from about 25,000 to about 30,000.

The K-12 School COVID-19 Testing Program is a voluntary program to help schools reopen safely for in-person instruction. It is free.

“We’ve been given $134 million by the federal government to create a testing program for K-12 schools, public and private, throughout the entire commonwealth,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “I urge everyone who operates a school out there to explore the options and make testing available to keep yourselves safe.”

They said testing will be limited to staff and students of Kentucky K-12 public, private and charter schools. It includes school district employees and staff (contracted or otherwise), such as bus drivers, maintenance, office staff or as determined by the school administrator.

The testing program will run the entire 2021-22 academic year.

As of Monday, the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine in Kentucky was 2,278,834. Those who have received a dose in the past day include 17,513.

New cases for the state include 783 and the positivity rate was 7.89 percent.

On Monday, the governor reported 486 current hospitalizations. Of those, 159 were in ICU and 71 were on ventilators.

The briefing was at 3 p.m. on Monday, July 26 at the Kentucky State Capitol.

He was joined by Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass and Kentucky Board of Education Chair Lu Young.

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