Fayette County Schools to continue masking

At this time, Fayette County is in the high category on the new CDC metric.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) (PRESS RELEASE)- Fayette County Public Schools will continue masking, according to the District.

In a release sent to ABC 36, the District says that on the heels of Friday’s revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding health and safety protocols for communities and schools, leaders from the Fayette County Public Schools and Lexington-Fayette County Health Department met Sunday to discuss local ramifications.

“Throughout the pandemic, our district has followed the recommendations from federal, state, and local public health experts,” said Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Demetrus Liggins. “We remain committed to doing so.”

The CDC on Friday announced a new way of determining the need for health restrictions, such as wearing masks. Under the new guidance, communities are evaluated on new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, COVID-19 related hospital admissions, and the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Each county is categorized as high, medium, or low risk, which correspond to different levels of recommended health and safety prevention measures.

At this time, Fayette County is in the high category on the new CDC metric.

“For much of the country it’s a better picture,” Lexington-Fayette County Health Commissioner Joel McCullough said of Friday’s announcement. “For Fayette County and most of Central Kentucky, the COVID-19 community level is still high. We are moving in the right direction, but I would not recommend lowering our layered prevention measures while we are at a high level.”

Under current state law, the authority to determine mask requirements in schools rests with the local school board. In September, the Fayette County Board of Education voted unanimously to require the proper usage of face masks in all district facilities and FCPS vehicles, including on school buses.

“While I am committed to taking revised mask requirements to the board as soon as it is appropriate, prematurely moving away from masking could derail our efforts to keep our schools open,” Liggins said.

The matter is not on the agenda for the school board meeting on Monday, February 28, 2022.

“Following Friday’s announcement from the CDC, we expect to receive revised guidance from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, which will allow us to once again update our current practices,” Liggins said.

Fayette County Public Schools last issued revised health and safety procedures on January 14.

“Listening to the experts has brought us this far and I am proud of the fact that we have not had to close our district or switch all of our schools to virtual learning due to COVID-19,” Liggins said. “COVID-19 is constantly evolving, which requires us to stay on top of new information and be flexible.”

Fayette County Board of Education Chair Tyler Murphy, who also participated in Sunday’s meeting with the health department, underscored the school board’s ongoing commitment to ensuring safe in-person learning while following the advice from public health professionals.

“We have consistently followed the recommendations from national, state, and local health experts who continue to evaluate the public health realities in our community. In keeping with this practice, our board is prepared to act on any revised recommendation whenever it is prudent,” Murphy said. “However, as Dr. McCullough shared with us today, our community remains at high risk even under the latest guidance, indicating our current practice should remain in place at this time.”

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