FRANKFORT, Ky. — Just days after Gov. Andy Beshear's administration released guidance for the 2021-22 school year, Health Commission Dr. Steven Stack said the state is now recommending universal masking in all school districts.
"Everyone in the K-12 setting in indoor spaces should wear masks, period," Stack said.
Stack said school districts should also have layered prevention strategies in place, like adding physical distance, encouraging hand hygiene and continuously cleaning services.
The guidance is in line with updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said even vaccinated individuals should return to wearing masks indoors in counties with substantial or high amounts of community transmission of COVID-19. Data shows 80% of Kentucky counties fall under that guidance.
Jefferson County's Board of Education voted unanimously to require masks inside all facilities. JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said he plans to align his decisions with advice from health officials, saying the requirement does not have to be an "entire year decision."
Several school districts in the area have released their mask guidance, many only requiring masks for unvaccinated students and staff. Beshear said the districts should follow guidance from the CDC and the state to protect their kids.
"I can't image what type of liability a school system will face if the CDC told them something clearly, the state told them something clearly and in the midst of a pandemic with the most aggressive variant yet, knowing that most of their student body was not vaccinated, did not make the right decision," Beshear said.
Beshear announced Wednesday that all state employees and visitors will wear masks inside state buildings.
"I didn't want to have to go back to this, nobody wants to have to go back to this, but at the same time we pledged to protect one another, to be there for the people of our commonwealth," Beshear said.
Stack said it is "puzzling" that people are not getting the COVID-19 vaccine, encouraging Kentuckians to tune out social media or other entertainment sources when it comes to health care.
"We would all be better off if everyone just tuned out from social media and stopped watching anything on cable that wasn't a movie or television show for entertainment or sports," Stack said. "Don't look to cable sources for your medical advice."