JCPS parents react to possible universal mask requirement for all students, staff

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 4:33 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After Gov. Andy Beshear revealed new recommendations to safely return to school this upcoming semester, Jefferson County Public Schools announced its recommendation that would be brought to the board Tuesday evening.

In a message sent to JCPS parents and staff Monday evening, the Board of Education is expected to discuss mask wearing and a virtual school option for the 2021-2022 school year during Tuesday’s meeting at Central High School.

Dr. Marty Pollio said he has recommended a universal mask requirement for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. This rule would follow the CDC’s recommendation that everyone in Kindergarten through 12th grade schools wear a mask. The district’s requirement would be in effect within JCPS buildings, but would not be required when staff or students are outside JCPS property.

>>RELATED STORY: JCPS superintendent defends mask recommendation ahead of school board meeting

JCPS parents are divided on the topic. Sarah Durand, a mother of three, told WAVE 3 News parents should get to decide whether their children should wear a mask.

“It is not the role of the Jefferson county school board to tell me the health decisions I need to make for my children,” Durand said. “They’ve never asked me my children’s individual needs, they don’t know my children’s individual needs. I know them best and I’m the best person to make those decisions,” she added. “I’ve been making those decisions for 17 years. I would like to continue to make those decisions for my kids.”

JCPS parent Jill Jones has a different perspective as a healthcare worker.

“I’ve seen firsthand what this virus does,” Jones said. “We need to protect ourselves, and if masks are how we protect ourselves, they need to wear them. Even if the kids have been vaccinated, and they need to wear the mask, my kid has tons of masks, she will be wearing them and she will comply because that’s what she needs to do,” Jones said.

Jones told WAVE 3 News masks might be the only way to ensure children can go to school in-person, which she believes is a more ideal learning environment.

“Ultimately we need to make sure these kids get an education and with this online learning they’re not getting the education they need, they’re not getting the hands on from the teacher, and that’s what they need,” she added.

The JCPS requirement will have to pass a vote before going into effect the first day of school on August 11.

In Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Education will also discuss a possible extension of a virtual school option for elementary school students. JCPS’ letter states students in grades 6 through 12 are eligible to enroll in the Pathfinder School of Innovation online school.

Virtual school options for Kindergarten through 5th graders would have to be approved by the Kentucky Department of Education, according to JCPS.

WAVE 3 News will have more details from the Board of Education meeting Tuesday.

To watch the board meeting live, click here.

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