MURRAY – Although the General Assembly passed a law in a special legislative session last week lifting statewide mask mandates, the mask policies for both local school districts will remain in place for now due to high COVID-19 case numbers.

The superintendents for Murray Independent School District and Calloway County Schools District have issued public statements on their districts’ policies, which require everyone inside school district buildings to wear face coverings. According to Kentucky Today, the General Assembly on Thursday passed Senate Bill 1, which bans statewide mask mandates in Kentucky schools and allows local school boards the power to implement them. SB 1 passed the Senate 28-8 and was sent to the House of Representatives, where it cleared the House Education Committee and was then approved by the full House 70-25. That was after that chamber merged the House version into SB 1, KT reported.

Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the bill as soon as it reached his desk late Thursday night, but his line-item veto was quickly overridden in the Senate on a 22-6 vote and by the House on a 69-24 vote, KT reported. School districts were to have five business days to decide their mask policies before the statewide requirement officially ends.

Beshear said he disagreed with portions of the bill that ended mask requirements for public schools and child-care facilities, adding in his afternoon press conference that “universal masking is absolutely necessary in schools. Now, thankfully, I think most superintendents know that now, even the ones who didn’t think it was true in the beginning.”

“On Sept. 9, 2021, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1,” said Calloway County Superintendent Tres Settle in a statement on the district’s Facebook page Sunday evening. “This bill provided more flexibility to districts during the school year to manage certain issues concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the more discussed portions of this new bill are the sections with the Kentucky Board of Education’s emergency regulation requiring face coverings in schools and returning that authority to the local school district.

“In August, our district developed a COVID-19 Back to School Plan which developed different tiers for the requirement of face coverings. Due to the prevalence of COVID-19 in Calloway County, all Calloway County Schools will remain in Tier 2. In Tier 2, in Calloway County Schools, all persons age 2 and up will be required to wear a face covering indoors regardless of vaccination status.

“The health and safety of our students and staff will always be our top priorities. With the increased spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, we must require face coverings to keep our schools open for in-person instruction. We are constantly monitoring health data in our schools and our community. We also regularly receive guidance from our local health department and the Kentucky Department of Education.

“Our students and staff have done an excellent job in the first four weeks of our school year. We are working tirelessly to continue to offer in-person instruction to our students and families. We thank you for your continued support for our schools.”

MISD Superintendent Coy Samons issued a statement Monday morning.

“Based on current COVID-19 information available for Murray/Calloway County, the Murray Independent School District will require face masks/coverings indoors when students (PS-12) arrive to our respective campuses,” Samons said. “Also, face masks/coverings are required at all times when using school transportation. Universal masking applies to all individuals, including visitors, vaccinated and unvaccinated. Face masks/coverings are not required outdoors.

“As stated previously, Murray Independent Schools will continue to provide in-person instruction five days per week during the 2021-2022 academic year. In-person instruction is the most effective approach to address the academic and social-emotional needs of our students.

“MISD encourages everyone eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to strongly consider and partake after consultation with your healthcare provider. The vaccines are our best defense for a safe and healthy school year.”

Samons also noted that the 2021-22 MISD Reopening Plan for in-person instruction is available to view at https://bit.ly/39i39Wd. Any parent with questions is encouraged to contact the principal at their child’s school. The Student COVID-19 self-check is available at https://bit.ly/MISDselfcheck.

“The Murray Independent District will continue to monitor on a regular basis the COVID-19 data and guidance from local, state and national health sources to determine mask protocols for students PS-12 and staff,” Samons concluded.