It is the first day of school eve out here in Louisville, and it is shaping up to be a rather dramatic start.
As I write this, I
have no clue just learned students will be required to wear masks on the first day. Yes, a months-old, CDC-aligned district policy says universal masking should be happening while the county is in the red.
But that was very close to changing.
First, more than 150 protesters showed up to last week’s school board meeting, demanding masks become optional.
Then, in a semi-surprising turn, a teachers union survey found about 57% of teachers want masks to be optional, too.
But! The survey was done on SurveyMonkey, and so anyone who had the link could vote. Some teachers raised concerns that their survey had been infiltrated by anti-maskers. Screenshots shared with me from an anti-mask Facebook group show that did actually happen, but it is unclear to what extent.
So, they’re redoing the survey, but JCTA President Brent McKim doesn’t expect the results to change.
And then new national data showed JCPS is just one of seven out of the 500 largest school districts to still require masks. That is 1.4%.
After compounding pushback, school board members started considering holding a special meeting to reconsider its mask requirement. Rumors sprung up over the weekend that a board meeting had been called for Monday (partially because one board member told folks it had been called). Those rumors ended up not being true.
And they ended up not calling a meeting for Tuesday night either. The votes simply weren't there, one board member told me.
To add to the mess, the CDC is expected to announce relaxed COVID-19 guidance for schools that may or may not change its recommendations to schools regarding masks.
Even if the mask requirement sticks around, it is unclear just how well it will be followed when teachers aren't the biggest fans of it and students don’t need to wear a mask … anywhere else at this point.
Quick detour to mention that JCTA endorsed all four incumbents running for reelection in November — Diane Porter, Corrie Shull, James Craig and Linda Duncan.
It will be interesting to see how any potential votes against what JCTA members want, or on masks in general, impact election results. It will also be interesting to see how board candidates who lean anti-union and anti-mask talk about this situation on the campaign trail.
Speaking of election szn
The Courier Journal is hosting four forums for JCPS school board candidates in the months leading up to Election Day.
Here’s the schedule:
District 1: Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Western library branch
District 3: Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Northeast branch
District 5: Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fairdale branch
District 6: Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Newburg branch
Watson Lane gets its revenge
A few months after JCPS closed Watson Lane Elementary and merged its students on a new campus at Wilkerson Elementary, the “Gem of the South” is back and preparing to welcome more than 500 kids Wednesday.
The new Wilkerson is not allowed to open for at least a few weeks after failing not one, but two building inspections. It appears the roof has some leak issues, among other things.
JCPS officials hope Wilkerson can open soon, but until then, Watson Lane is ~back~.
The district will get to open its other new school, Indian Trail Elementary, as scheduled on Wednesday morning.
If you're starting back this week, let me know how your first week goes! I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Chrissy, wake up!