A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear says K-12 schools should require universal indoor masking following updated CDC guidance

On Thursday during his Team Kentucky Update, Gov. Andy Beshear announced new COVID-19 precautions based on updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“With the delta variant spreading across the U.S. and only 62% of Kentuckians ages 18 or older vaccinated, right now our answer is: Masks plus vaccines equals victory over COVID,” said Beshear. “We are strong enough and resilient enough to do this. We are compassionate enough to know we have to do this.”

Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during his Thursday Team Kentucky briefing

The Governor said his first priority is to ensure safe, in-person instruction in our schools for the maximum number of days. His second priority is to continue the commonwealth’s unprecedented economic progress.

Beshear and state officials expect that, without mitigation efforts, the delta variant will spread through unvaccinated workplaces and classrooms, disrupting education and slowing economic growth through loss of productivity and frequent quarantines. Therefore, he announced:

K-12 Return to School Guidance Updated to Reflect CDC Guidance: Beshear said school districts should require universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with layered strategies in place to prevent COVID-19 infection and transmission.

Masks Required in State Office Buildings: The Governor said masks will now be required at all state office buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

“I’m fully vaccinated, but I’m still my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. I still believe in loving my neighbor as I would myself, so I’m going to mask up,” said Beshear. “I promised when I became Governor that I would lead by example.”

COVID-19 Update

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said from March 1 to July 28, 2021, 94.5% of COVID-19 cases, 91.8% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 88.8% of COVID-19 deaths were among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Kentuckians.

“We have changed in the blink of an eye from a quiet, calm state to a horribly inflamed state,” said Dr. Stack. “We all know what we need to do, and that’s to get vaccinated. I’m not begging folks. I’m wondering why folks wouldn’t want to be protected. The vaccines are at no additional costs to you, and they protect you from all of these harms. It’s puzzling why folks wouldn’t do it.”

On Thursday, five local health department directors joined Beshear and Dr. Stack to discuss COVID-19 mitigation efforts: Denise Beach, director of the Hopkins County Health Department; Greg Brewer, director of the Gateway District Health Department; Mark Hensley, director of the Laurel County Health Department; Dr. Crystal Miller, DrPH, director of the WedCo District Health Department; and Dr. Sarah Moyer, MD, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

“I want us all to take ourselves back to that moment in time in March, because I think that we all had the same goal in common that we knew without a shadow of a doubt that we would do whatever it took to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe,” said Dr. Miller. “Somehow we’ve grayed those lines. We’ve gotten away from that mission. It’s been a long 16 months. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. But the difference between March 6 and today is that we have a solution. We know exactly what works: vaccines and masking.”

The Governor encouraged all Kentuckians 12 and older to get a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and then sign up for a chance to win $1 million or a full college scholarship at ShotAtAMillion.ky.gov. One $1 million winner and five full-scholarship winners have already been selected. On both July 30 and Aug. 27, another $1 million winner and five more full-scholarship winners will be announced.

So far, 692,205 vaccinated Kentuckians have signed up for the $1 million drawing and 40,934 vaccinated youth have signed up for the full scholarship drawing.

Governor’s Office

Related Posts

Leave a Comment