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Special Session Over, Bill Ending KDE School Mask Mandate Becomes Law

Karyn Czar, WUKY

On day three of the special legislative session, lawmakers in the House and Senate passed Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2. After vetoes by Governor Andy Beshear just before 11:00 p.m. Thursday, the GOP led House and Senate made them law.

Senate Bill 1 ends the statewide public school mask mandate issued by the Kentucky Department of Education but districts can still choose to implement them. The Governor said his veto was based on guidance from national, state and local health officials who advise the use of facial coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19. That veto was overridden by the Senate on a 22-6 vote and by the House on a 69-24 vote.

Just hours after the bill passed, several school districts in the state announced that they will have an indoor masking mandate in effect until the end of the school year unless COVID numbers fall and all students are able to get vaccinated. On social media, Fayette County Public Schools Board Chair Tyler Murphy said that he is adding an item to the board’s work session Monday to consider requiring universal indoor masking.

SB 1 also gives public school districts 20 days of remote learning which can be tailored to specific schools or classes during an outbreak or quarantine, continues a limit of ten NTI days per district, allows time to be added to the school day to reach the required amount of instruction time per year and lessens rules to allow retired and substitute teachers to return to the classrooms.

Lawmakers also overrode the Governor’s veto of SB 2. The bill bans statewide mask mandates through 2023 but individual businesses and organizations can still require masks.

The Governor did sign SB 3 which earmarks $69 million in federal funds to address the pandemic and SB 5 which provides funding for economic development