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OC Schools to continue mask mandate for all buildings, school buses

In Education, Local, News by OC Monitor Staff

HARTFORD, Ky. — Ohio County Schools will continue to require all staff, students and visitors to wear masks in all buildings and on school buses. The announcement was made yesterday on Ohio County Public Schools Facebook page in the form of a letter from Ohio County Schools Superintendent Seth Southard.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed a law that repealed the mask mandate by the Kentucky Board of Education. With the mandate repealed, the decision to continue to wear masks at schools was left up to the individual school districts. As of Thursday, 135 of the 171 school districts in Kentucky are keeping the mask mandate in its schools.

In yesterday’s letter, Southard wrote that he understood the public was divided on the issue of wearing masks in school, but the wearing of masks helps reduce the number of students quarantined.

“With universal masking, we are able to keep our quarantines to a minimum because the contact tracing distance is three feet.,” Southard wrote. “Typically, we are able to keep students three feet apart while in the classroom. Without universal masking, the contact tracing distance increases to six feet, which results in many more staff and students quarantined due to exposure. We cannot keep students six feet apart during the school day. We cannot effectively operate schools with too many staff on quarantine.”

Southard said the Board of Education will continue to monitor the local COVID-19 data. If conditions improve to where they feel masks aren’t needed, adjustments will be made. At this time, the local rate of incidence in Ohio County is very high.

“This is not a decision we make lightly. We have surveyed our parents and staff; we have spoken to our medical providers; we have spoken to our health department, and we have spoken to local community officials,” Southard said. “We are committed to do whatever is needed to continue in-person learning and to keep students in the building. Our decision is based upon how we believe we can keep that commitment to our students.”

Southard ended the letter by thanking everyone for their support and reminding everyone every decision made by him and the board of education is what is believed to be best for the students, staff and community.

The Ohio County Board of Education will hold its regular September meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the Ohio County Board of Education.

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