State Board of Ed approves masking regulation

The Kentucky Board of Education has approved an emergency regulation that requires all individuals inside public school facilities to wear a face covering, which could remain in effect longer than the mask mandate executive order issued by Gov. Andy Beshear earlier this week.

Lewis County Schools Superintendent Jamie Weddington issued a letter to parents and employees today (A printable PDF may be found below):

“Dear LC parents and staff,

We are very excited to welcome back our students for the upcoming school year. Everyone is working very hard to make the return to school as normal as possible for them. With that being said, yesterday, the Kentucky Board of Education passed Emergency Regulation 702 KAR 1:195E, Face Coverings in School Facilities. This regulation requires the universal masking of all students, staff and visitors while indoors in any school building occupied by students. This regulation is for up to 270 days, however, the motion stated that the board will reconvene immediately should the CDC and/or the KY Department of Public Health no longer recommend wearing masks and State Education Commissioner Glass noted that “it is not the intent for this regulation to be in place any longer than necessary”. This regulation is no different than the hundreds of regulations that we follow every day as they relate to public schools in Kentucky.

This regulation IS separate from the Governor’s action and carries the weight of law as the KY Department of Education is the educational authority in the Commonwealth to issue binding mandates and rules.

Commissioner Glass also stated during the meeting that he expects that school systems around the state would work with this regulation, as it is now law in the state of Kentucky. He did note that there were, of course, potential consequences to not following the law. Specifically, any school system that refused to follow the regulation would be investigated and any individuals at the “system leadership levels” could risk losing their professional licensure to practice education if the regulation was not followed as adherence to the law is a requirement for licensure. He also stated that student refusal to comply and staff refusal to comply should be handled through the existing local district policies/procedures dealing with violations of law and policy.

As a school district we are committed to providing the best in person learning experience possible for all our students. We are not going to argue or debate this regulation as that serves no practical purpose. Students will not be permitted into their building without appropriate face covering. Your frustration is understood but negative actions will not affect any type of change at the local level and only serves to escalate tensions in a setting where no resolution can be achieved.

Over the last 17 months, there has been much discussion around the effectiveness of masks, the effectiveness of vaccines, and the role of the federal and state government in the education of our children. People’s opinions are generally split on this issue but there are some things we can all agree on.

• We all know someone who has had the COVID virus.

• We all know someone who has had this virus and it has not affected them anymore than the common cold.

• We all know someone who lost a loved one as a result of COVID.

• We all know people who have chosen to take the vaccine and others who have not.

• We all love our families, especially our children.

I would ask you to consider these things as we prepare to return to school on August 23.

• Whether you agree or disagree with the wearing of masks–how you handle the wearing of masks with your child will greatly impact the day your student has at school.

• Again, there is no choice as to follow this regulation. Being rude, unhappy, or mean toward our staff is misplaced and unacceptable.  Please keep in mind they are simply trying to do their job and follow a set of rules the district has little to no say in.

• All of our staff is giving their absolute best effort to educate your child and to make their school experience the best that it can possibly be while trying to keep all students and staff safe and healthy.

We will follow the guidelines that are provided by our local health department to the best of our abilities including as many of the mitigation strategies as we can.

The last 17 months have been hard on all of us but especially hard on our children. They need the bus rides, the social interactions with friends, the recess, the learning, and all aspects of school. Together, let’s make sure our students have a great school year. It will take ALL of us working together to make that happen.

Respectfully with Lion Pride,

Jamie Weddington

Superintendent”

 

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Click HERE for a printable PDF of the letter.

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