The leader of a vocal parent group on Monday appealed to new Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins to allow family choice on masks, as Lexington awaits the district decision.
“My appeal to you would be to allow family choice on masks for -- at a minimum -- students at the elementary level, if not for all students and staff,” said Todd Burus, a leader in the Let Them Learn in Fayette County Facebook group. He said he wrote the letter on his own.
On Sunday, one Lexington middle school posted and then removed a student supply list saying that face masks were mandatory for in-person learning this fall. Fayette County Public Schools officials had not announced the district’s decision as of Monday morning.
Whether Fayette students will have to wear masks when the school year begins Aug. 11 has been a point of division among parents and citizens.
School district officials did not immediately comment on the information on the Winburn Middle School’s website.
Liggins has said his first major decision would be in regard to return to school COVID procedures, but it is unclear when he will announce a decision on masks.
In view of rising COVID-19 cases and worries over the highly contagious Delta variant, both Gov. Andy Beshear and Fayette Public Health Commissioner Kraig Humbaugh last week followed federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and recommended universal masking for all students inside schools, despite vaccination status.
On Thursday night, in the district’s latest statement on the issue, spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Liggins has made preparations for back to school his top priority.
“District leaders are working diligently on comprehensive health and safety guidelines for our families that extend far beyond masks and quarantines,” said Deffendall.
“The guidance documents issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, American Association of Pediatrics, Kentucky Department for Public Health, Kentucky Department of Education, and Governor call for layers of prevention strategies to ensure our students are able to fully engage in on-campus learning,” she said.
“There are a lot of moving parts, and we are still awaiting direction from the Kentucky Department of Education about whether we are allowed to provide instruction to students placed on quarantine. As soon as the health and safety procedures are complete, they will be shared with families.”
A district letter on Winburn’s website updated July 31, addressed the quarantine instruction issue:
“During the 2021-22 school year, Fayette County Public Schools will offer in-person instruction for all students at all schools,” the letter said. Districtwide or school-based remote learning would only be considered if advised by medical professionals, required under orders from the governor, mandated by the Kentucky Department of Education, or compelled by extraordinary circumstances.
“While students will be returning to in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year and school-based virtual learning is not available, there may be times when schools will need to provide virtual learning for quarantined students.”