LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With COVID-19 cases spiking in Kentucky and Jefferson County currently on a “red” community level for spread, attorney general Daniel Cameron is urging the state’s largest district to end universal masking.
Jefferson County Public Schools updated their policies in late July asking anyone who enters a district facility or school bus to wear masks. The district’s policy falls in line with CDC recommendations.
JCPS is one of several large school districts across the country who are implementing universal masking.
“JCPS has instituted a universal mask mandate for all school children and everyone who steps foot in a JCPS building or bus,” Cameron said in a letter. “This policy places unnecessary strain on teachers and hinders the development of our children, and we’ve asked the Board to end the mandate."
He further explains in the letter that his office is evaluating whether the JCPS Board has the authority to impose health policies. Cameron said the mandate “harms children, burdens teachers and is bad public policy.”
Cameron also cited a Brown University study that says “COVID-related rules, including masking, led to a 23% dive in children’s general cognitive development.”
Cameron said enforcing mandates like JCPS’ does not “incentivize” teachers to continue the task of educating children.
“72% of teachers ‘are at risk of leaving their jobs soon’ and... social distancing, masking, and raging inflation are not providing them a reason to stay,” he wrote.
Recently, JCPS Board member James Craig asked the district to reconsider the masking policy after receiving community feedback.
In an Aug. 12 poll conducted by the Jefferson County Teachers Association, it showed 52% of teachers are against current requirements while 38% were in support and 10% decided to remain neutral.
JCPS’ current policy is expected to end on Aug. 19.