Kentucky Board of Education mandates masks for all students and staff


(Image provided by MGN Online)

All students, staff, and visitors are required to wear a mask while in school, which was put into action by the Kentucky Board of Education.

     For the 2021-22 school year, the Kentucky Board of Education released COVID-19 guidelines that all Kentucky public schools are required to follow. These included a masking mandate for students, staff, and visitors, who must wear a mask while indoors at all times, whether they are vaccinated or not. 

     Fort Thomas Independent Schools superintendent Brian Robinson stated the consequences for students and staff who fails to comply with the school’s masking guidelines.

     “If you’re an adult [staff member] and you do not follow, you could be considered insubordinate. In terms of students, it would range from how we would respond to other rules or regulations that are disobedient, such as the dress code.”

     With social distancing in mind, all individuals must maintain at least three feet, although, in some situations, groupings will be allowed, if there is the proper usage of masks. 

     John Darnell, Highlands High School principal addressed the question of how long these protocols will be in place.

     “Currently, we do not know how long it will last. By statute, the emergency regulation issued by the KBE is in effect for 270 days. However, it can also be rescinded by the KBE as well.”

     In some cases, masking will not be required for those who have a disability, hearing impairment, physical, or mental impairment, along with a note from a medical professional. Along with this, if an individual is eating or drinking, masking is not required.

     Robinson addressed the limitations to requiring masking.

     “There are some religious guidelines too. But there essentially has to be evidence, typically through court proceedings, that the religion follows that suit.”

     Following the 2020-21 school year, where temperature checks were mandatory for all students, temperature screenings will instead take place randomly for non-symptomatic students and staff. 

     Cleaning procedures are continued, such as using hand sanitizing stations to promote proper hand hygiene and the cleaning of desks and chairs. 

     All students are asked to monitor any symptoms that could be connected to COVID-19. 

     According to the Department of Public Health and Northern Kentucky Health Department, close contact excludes students who are at least three feet away from an infected student. For this to be applied, both students must be engaged in the consistent and correct use of masks. 

     Darnell discussed the resilience of the Bluebirds in this time of uncertainty.

     “Our student population has been great with adapting to these rulings over the past couple of weeks. I don’t need to see someone’s teeth to know they are smiling, and I think all of us are happy to be back in this amazing building, face-covering or not.”