Reaction swift and varied from Beshear’s mask mandate 

Published 6:32 pm Thursday, August 12, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. – People on both sides of the issue have had plenty to say on Gov. Andy Beshear’s school mask mandate executive order issued Tuesday afternoon.

House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, says the General Assembly spoke clearly and indisputably when they enacted four pieces of legislation this year regarding executive orders, specifically House Bill 1, Senate bills 1 and 2, and House Joint Resolution 77.

“These measures strengthened state law to better reflect the separation of powers called for in our state constitution and empowered school boards, local governments and other entities to take the actions they deem necessary in situations like this,” he said. “And, until the Supreme Court of Kentucky rules on the governor’s challenge to these measures, this issue remains unresolved. It is their unwillingness to act that has left so much in limbo.”

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House Democratic leaders expressed support for Beshear, saying, “If we want our children in school instead of learning online, and if we actually want to follow CDC guidelines as this year’s House Bill 1 calls for, then Governor Beshear’s statewide mask mandate for students and school staff alike is the only appropriate step to take. The CDC recommends universal masking for everyone in a school setting, regardless of vaccination status.  The idea that children are not affected by this virus is wrong.” 

Jimmy Dyehouse, superintendent of the Science Hill Independent Schools in Pulaski County, minced no words in his condemnation of the mask mandate as well as the governor, in an audio message sent to all parents in the district.

“This liberal lunatic that we have up there in Frankfort has signed another executive order mandating masks for all students and adults in schools.  What this means is the professional opinion of your superintendent doesn’t matter, the opinion of your school board doesn’t matter, and you as parents, your opinion doesn’t matter.

“We hope this will be fought in court this week and we’ll get this overturned.”   

A group known as the Kentucky Student Voice Team says they favor the mask mandate due to rising COVID-19 rates, and that masks are the least invasive way to protect students and keep in-person learning in place.

“We know that online learning exacerbates disparities for young people with poor internet access with parents who cannot work from home, and with special needs, and other marginalized communities. But with a mask mandate in place for our schools, we can better ensure that these students receive the resources they need, that fewer of us suffer from the worst effects of COVID-19, and that we receive the fullest possible education experience.”