Citing quickly increasing positivity rates, Governor Andy Beshear announced what he called three “strong recommendations” to maximize in-person learning days during the coming school year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The recommendations include a return to mask wearing for many.
At a Monday news conference, Beshear blamed unvaccinated Kentuckians for the spread of COVID-19, particularly the Delta variant. He said the positivity rate has reached nearly 8% with 5,662 new cases reported last week. For comparison, he said that three weeks ago Kentucky cases totaled 1,844. Beshear noted that unvaccinated Kentuckians comprised most of the new cases.
While last week he said only 4.5% of cases were tested for the variant, Beshear said, “At this point, we should virtually assume that anybody who tests positive for COVID has the Delta variant and therefore has in the course of this pandemic the most dangerous variant that we have seen.”
His recommendations outline that school districts should require:
- All unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
- All students under 12 years of age to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
- All students and all adults to wear a mask while in the classroom and other indoor school settings if the district wishes to optimize safety and minimize risk of education and athletic disruption.
When asked whether he would mandate mask wearing in schools, Beshear responded that it “is not off of the table.” However, he insisted that more parents agreed with him than disagreed, and he expects school districts to comply. “It’s the only right answer to protect the kids,” Beshear said.
Kentucky Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack repeated that the vaccines are safe and that any adverse reactions, while tragic, are extremely rare.
Beshear also reminded anyone getting their first dose of the vaccine by Wednesday, July 28, is eligible for the next vaccine sweepstakes drawing for $1 million or a full-ride scholarship.
The next drawing occurs Thursday, July 29, with an announcement coming the following day..