FRANKFORT, Ky. — Will your kids be required to wear a mask when they return to school? That's a question many school districts across the Commonwealth will be deciding on in the coming weeks as cases rise across Kentucky.

What You Need To Know

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masking for students over the age of 2, whether they are vaccinated or not

  • The CDC recommends unvaccinated students and staff wear masks in schools

  • The Kentucky Department of Education recommends unvaccinated students and staff mask up, but is leaving the decisions up to the school districts

  • Many school districts will be deciding whether to require masks or not at upcoming board meetings

A national pediatric group was the latest group to weigh in on this topic, contradicting guidance set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masking for students over the age of 2, whether they are vaccinated or not. 

This announcement came after the CDC recently updated guidance to say that vaccinated staff and students don't need to wear masks in schools, but unvaccinated students and staff should wear one.

Kids under 12 are still not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and older kids, 12 to 15 years old, who are eligible, have the lowest vaccination rates. Experts say this is a big concern as the Delta variant continues to spread.

"At a national level, kids comprise a bigger proportion of all cases. This was a trend we saw as adults were getting vaccinated and children were not yet eligible for vaccines. Recognize still kids under 12 do not have access to vaccines yet,“ said Dr. Kris Bryant of Norton Children's Hospital.

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) also updated guidance following the CDC's updated recommendations. At this time, KDE recommends unvaccinated students and staff wear a mask at school. The department also recommends all Kentucky students wear masks on the bus, no matter whether they are vaccinated or not.

That guidance from the KDE is just that. The department maintains that ultimate decisions on mask requirements in schools will remain up to each individual school district.

Most school districts in Kentucky are still weighing their options for the next school year, likely deciding at upcoming board of education meetings.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) responded to the updated recommendations from the CDC already. Now, all JCPS students and staff have to wear a mask during summer school programming in the district. That change does not affect the new school year, though. The JCPS Board of Education will vote on mask guidance for the new school year at a board meeting next week.

One district we know of that has decided for the fall is Bullitt County Public Schools. The district informed parents that, at this time, there are no plans to require students to wear masks next school year. However, the school district still recommends students who are not vaccinated wear masks voluntarily. 

Many Kentucky school districts have their last board meetings before the new school year in the next few weeks. This matter is likely to be taken up at most of those. Spectrum News 1 will keep you updated on any developments before the new school year.