‘Vaccinated or not’, Catholic students and staff in Lexington Diocese will wear masks

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Students and staff in the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, whether vaccinated or not, will wear masks to guard against COVID-19 in the upcoming school year until Labor Day, the superintendent of schools announced Wednesday.

“All students and staff, whether they are vaccinated or not, are to be masked indoors from the start of school until Labor Day, “ Superintendent Tom Brown told families and staff in a letter.

Brown said Diocese officials were committed to beginning the 2021-2022 school year on time and in person. The Diocese includes more than a dozen schools in Lexington and Central and Eastern Kentucky.

”We share the concerns of state of Kentucky officials, health care professionals and parents concerning the rising transmission rates of this virus and its variants in our Diocese,” Brown said in the letter to families and staff members. He said the decision about mask wearing was made by Bishop John Stowe who had consulted with health officials and school leaders.

”The Delta variant appears to be more contagious and is infecting younger populations,” Brown said.

Gov. Andy Beshear has said everyone inside a K-12 Kentucky school should be wearing a mask this fall, regardless of vaccination status. But he did not make that recommendation a mandate.

As a result, various schools districts in Kentucky have taken different paths. Jessamine, Madison, Mercer and Franklin are among the school districts that are letting parents decide whether students wear masks inside schools.

Fayette County Public Schools is requiring all students and staff to wear masks inside buildings when school starts Aug. 11.

Brown said if conditions improve after Labor Day, Diocese officials want all schools to be empowered to evaluate conditions in their individual communities and determine the best course of action regarding masks.

It is unclear what other private schools in Lexington will do in regard to masking this school year.

Lexington Christian Academy and The Lexington School did not respond to questions about their mask policies.

Barb Milosch, a spokeswoman for Sayre School, said she probably would not have an announcement until the first of next week.

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