JCPS Board votes not to discuss mask policy; superintendent responds to AG’s letter
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Jefferson County Public School Board voted 4-3 Tuesday night not to amend the meeting’s agenda to discuss the district’s universal mask mandate.
Board members Kolb, Porter, Marshall and Shull voted not to amend the agenda, while members McIntosh, Craig and Duncan voted to have the discussion.
James Craig made the motion to the board, citing feedback he’d received from the community since the mask mandate was instituted weeks ago.
The board’s regularly-scheduled meeting comes on the heels of Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s letter to the district, which urged JCPS to end the mask mandate.
Cameron said in the letter the mask mandate “harms children, unduly burdens teachers, and is bad public policy.” The letter also said Cameron’s office is looking into whether the school district has the ability to impose its mask mandate.
The letter cited a study from Brown University, stating COVID-related rules, including masking, led to a 23% drop in children’s cognitive development, a 30% drop in verbal development and more than a 20% drop in non-verbal development.
After the meeting, WAVE News asked JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio about the letter.
“I have not seen the letter, so I’m not aware of what it says,” Pollio said. “We were starting this meeting and so I haven’t seen my emails since then. So I can’t comment on that. I will say, once again, just like I said today, I think you starting pointing toward the Kentucky Department of Public Health and the CDC. I mean, these are organizations that have given clear recommendations. And although people dispute the recommendations, I’ve been on conference calls with the White House and the CDC about this.”
“So, I think there needs to be some challenges at that level too and what has happened over and over again is it’s just pushed down to local boards of education,” Pollio added. “And yes, local control is important, but sometimes that’s unfair when we’re talking about medical, determining how we should move forward medically.”
Pollio spent Tuesday morning in Frankfort, answering questions from a joint legislative committee on education. Pollio described decisions on masking to be “excruciating,” acknowledging a sharply-divided public.
“I struggled with it,” Pollio said. “It has not been easy, it has been for the past two-and-a-half years, since March 2020. Every decision has been excruciating on recommendations that I sent to the Board. Early on in this, I said I would follow CDC guidelines.”
Pollio told WAVE News Tuesday night he was hopeful Jefferson County would return to the yellow zone as it relates to COVID-19 cases, which would again make masking optional in schools and other district buildings.
He also said the virus’s case rate and number of hospitalizations have held the county into the red zone, thus continuing the mask mandate.
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