‘We have to have masking’: Pollio says JCPS mask mandate will continue

JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said JCPS is experiencing a need for more COVID testing.
JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said JCPS is experiencing a need for more COVID testing.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 8:59 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 9:02 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Just before the stroke of midnight Friday, the Kentucky General Assembly painted a new picture for Kentucky schools. Lawmakers adjourned the special legislative session with the votes to override two vetoes on statewide mask mandates.

The five bills presented, heavily discussed and passed, addressed issues from mask mandates in schools, businesses, healthcare entities.

Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2 were shot down by Gov. Andy Beshear. SB1 sought to nullify the statewide mask mandate imposed by Beshear, allowing what Republican lawmakers call “flexibility” for local school districts.

Friday afternoon, Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said the JCPS district-wide mask mandate would remain in place despite the new laws created in Frankfort.

The JCPS mask mandate was established by unanimous vote from the school board in July.

“We have to have masking in all of our schools, vaccination in order to stay open in our schools,” Pollio said.

Pollio also expressed concerns about the amount of Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) days the district has.

State lawmakers Thursday night added 20 remote learning days for each district to be used by superintendents specifically for individual schools or classes that need to quarantine. However, lawmakers did not add additional NTI days to each district’s disposal.

Currently, JCPS has 10 NTI days at its disposal to be used for the entire district amid a COVID-19 outbreak.

Pollio said he was concerned the remote learning days could be used up quickly, considering JCPS has 155 schools.

He also addressed what he called a major victory of the special session. Lawmakers allowed retired teachers to return to the classroom, making the same pay they retired with, without risk to their pensions.

Pollio said JCPS will “actively recruit” retired teachers to help amid quarantines and staff shortages.

“It’s really been all hands on deck with all the quarantining to continue in-person school and here we are on September 10th. So that’s my real concern. But, we’ll keep doing it day to day. I told our principals this is our reality and we’re going to stay open every single day that we possibly can.”

Unless another special session is called by Beshear, legislators will be away from Frankfort until the regular session, which begins Jan. 4.

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