‘Not welcome news.’ Jessamine schools return to mandatory masks amid COVID escalation

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With COVID incidence rates more than doubling in Jessamine County, the school district re-implemented a mandatory mask wearing requirement beginning Monday.

Jessamine Superintendent Matt Moore made mask wearing in schools optional in the beginning of November.

But on Friday, Moore told families in a letter that COVID positivity rates at the state, local and school district levels have increased significantly in a short period of time, requiring the new mandate.

“The Jessamine County Health Department reports that our community daily incidence rate has more than doubled from 24.81 on November 11th to 59.40 on December 2nd, moving us from the orange zone to well into the red zone,” he said.

The school district in a county adjoining Fayette has seen a similar surge in the number of positive cases among both students and staff.

Last week, the school district identified 37 positive student cases and 145 student quarantines. It also had 12 staff members not available due to positive cases and quarantines.

That trend is expected to continue over the next several weeks with the onset of colder weather and increased indoor gatherings due to the holiday season, Moore said.

Moore said a number of school districts across Kentucky have been forced to implement at home-learning plans, suspending in-person learning due to the number of cases in their communities and related impacts to their staffing levels. He said Jessamine school officials want to maintain in-person learning.

Gov. Andy Beshear said last week that Kentucky is in an escalation of cases.

The Jessamine school mask requirement will include all district activities, including athletics, extracurricular programs, and performances as well as transportation on school buses.

“I had hoped that our district could continue with an optional mask protocol for a longer period of time,” said Moore. “I understand that this is not welcome news for some and I believe that this transition is both a necessary and temporary step to mitigate the spread of COVID during this surge. “

“I look forward to returning to an optional mask protocol when it is safe to do so and at a time when we can be assured that we will be able to continue in-person instruction,” Moore said.

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