Fayette superintendent to ask board for authority to adjust mask policies

Demetrus Liggins wants to be able to lift the district's mask mandate without having to call a board meeting on short notice

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – On the eve of a specially called Fayette County Board of Education meeting, which was scheduled weeks ago to address COVID-19 protocols and other issues, Superintendent Demetrus Liggins says he’s going to ask the board for the authority to lift the district’s mask mandate without having to call a board meeting on short notice.

Supt. Liggins says with that authority, he would be able to lift the mask requirement as soon as the community COVID-19 levels are classified as medium or low by federal and state public health agencies.

As a growing number of schools across Kentucky make mask wearing optional, Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) has kept its mandate in place.  On Monday, a group of parents gathered outside the Board of Education offices to protest the district’s mask mandate.  Some of those parents spoke during the public comment section of the board meeting that night, telling board members they want to decide whether their children wear masks in school, not the school board.  The district’s mask mandate was not on the meeting agenda and was not addressed by the board.

For the week of Feb. 22-28, 2022, the school district reported 112 new student COVID-19 cases and 26 new staff cases.  The school district has roughly 42,000 students and 8,000 employees.

Here is the weekly virus update from Supt. Liggins:

Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility as we navigate the constantly evolving realities of COVID-19.

In the past four days, revised recommendations have been released first by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, and then by the Kentucky Department for Public Health on Monday. These updates have significant implications for the layered prevention measures currently followed in our Fayette County Public Schools.

The changes are a bit more complicated than many headlines suggest. In summary:

  • The CDC now considers COVID-19 case numbers, hospital admissions, and hospital occupancy rates in order to categorize each community as low, medium, or high risk.
  • Those ratings in turn determine the prevention measures recommended for each community.
  • When community levels are high, schools are advised to continue layered prevention strategies including universal masking for all students and staff in schools and on buses.
  • When community levels are medium or low, schools do not need to implement universal masking in schools or on buses.
  • At all levels of community spread, quarantines are no longer recommended following at-school exposures for asymptomatic people.

At this time, the community level in Fayette County is classified as high, which indicates we should continue with the layered mitigation measures we have in place, including mask requirements.

However, during our meeting with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department this morning, we again heard encouraging news that the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community is declining quickly.

Under current state law, the authority to determine mask policies in schools rests with the local school board. Our Fayette County Board of Education members have consistently sought to partner with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and align our practice with expert guidance.

To ensure that FCPS will be able to lift our mask requirement as soon as our community levels are classified as medium or low — without having to convene a school board meeting on short notice — I will be asking the board to grant me the authority to adjust mask policies in accordance with the level of community risk assessed by federal and state public health agencies.

Since I joined the Fayette County Public Schools seven months ago, we have consistently made careful and deliberate decisions based on recommendations from medical experts at the federal and state levels in collaboration with our partners at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. We will continue this practice moving forward.

Please be well and take care of each other,

DL

 

Categories: Coronavirus Updates, Featured, Local News, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *