By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Attorney General Daniel Cameron is urging Jefferson County school officials to end their mask mandate and telling them that he is investigating whether they are even allowed to institute it.
“While my office continues to review whether JCPS has the authority to impose such health policies, I write to urge the board to terminate its mask mandate immediately. The mandate harms children, unduly burdens teachers, and is bad public policy,” Cameron said in an e-mailed letter to the Jefferson County Board of Education, selectively citing research that he said supported his claims. He also said the district is the only one in Kentucky that requires masks.
Cameron’s letter was dated Aug. 16, the same day as a school board meeting. Mask policy was not on agenda, so board member James Craig made a motion to add it. The motion lost on a vote of 4 to 3. Craig said he wanted a discussion about changing the policy to only encourage masks while the county is rated at high risk, Olivia Krauth reports for the Louisville Courier Journal.
On Aug. 16, the incidence rate of new coronavirus cases in Jefferson County was 35.2 per 100,000 residents. Anything higher than 25 per 100,000 is considered to pose a high risk of transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s weekly risk map, which looks at hospital admissions and capacity as well as new cases, also places Jefferson County, along with 88 other Kentucky counties, at high risk.
The CDC recently changed some of its Covid-19 guidelines for schools, and no longer recommends that they do random screenings or participate in “test-to-stay” programs, it still recommends universal indoor masking in schools if they are in a county with high levels of transmission: “At a high Covid-19 community level, universal indoor masking in schools . . . is recommended, as it is in the community at large.”