JCPS Superintendent can now make decisions on mask mandates

Jefferson County Public Schools spokesman Mark Hebert said Dr. Marty Pollio will need masks again if JCPS returns to the “high” level of the COVID-19 community.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) passed a motion regarding mask mandates with a 4-3 vote.

In an update to parents and employees, JCPS spokesperson Mark Hebert said Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio has the authority to determine JCPS’ masking policy through June 30.

JCPS is still required to wear masks on Wednesday, Hébert said. He said Pollio would need masks again if JCPS returned to the “high” level of the COVID-19 community.

“Having a mask mandate is the very reason we’ve been able to have children in person for so long,” board member Chris Kolb said. “We have over 10,000 children with disabilities. We have over 6,000 children who are homeless. We have thousands of children who live with grandparents. In other words, not having a mask mandate exposes the majority of our students at a much higher risk.”

Kolb also said the privileged shouldn’t decide when the threat is over.

Board member Sarah McIntosh said she spoke with students and teachers who told her that masking had a negative effect on mental health.

“We need to step back and say what the academic impact is of wearing a mask in the classroom,” McIntosh said.

The main argument heard Tuesday night was to follow CDC guidelines, which the district has always done.

“I strongly believe the council is following public health guidelines,” said council member James Craig.

Kolb said CDC guidelines placing Jefferson County in yellow calls for implementing measures in high-risk environments.

“It’s a school – 20 to 30 kids in class, the vast majority are unvaccinated,” Kolb said.

JCPS claims that only 32% of its students are vaccinated.

However, the data shows that positive cases are trending down. In the first week of January, more than 1,700 students and 500 staff tested positive. The latest data for the week of February 27 shows around 70 students and 25 staff have tested positive.

Board member Diana Porter told the meeting that whatever the board decides, parents and students should not be harassed if they decide to continue wearing masks.

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