Do masks help mitigate the spread of COVID-19?

“It depends” is the all-too-often, non-absolute answer uttered. But … it’s the correct way to answer.

Most experts in disease prevention say yes … if worn properly (covering nose and mouth), and especially if worn within 6 feet of others, and — even more especially — if indoors.

It’s been proven that the N95 masks offer the highest level of protection for the wearer and others around that wearer, however, most don’t have access to N95 masks.

As Dr. Richard Ford, of King’s Daughters Medical Center, said at an Ashland Independent Schools board meeting in August, the type of mask does matter, sure, but any mask is better than no mask at all in helping thwart this virus’ path.

But, back to the initial question posed.

Perhaps the best method to measure that in Kentucky is by evaluating what happens in the following school districts over the next couple weeks: Gallatin County, Mercer County, Hickman County, Clinton County, Burgin and Science Hill.

According to the Kentucky Schools Board Association, those six public districts will no longer require masks in their buildings. The other 165 will operate under a mask mandate. 

Individual school boards made these decisions after the Kentucky Department of Education’s mask mandate ended on Friday.

In Mercer County, the schools will “track positive cases in the schools to determine if masking is required for all students and staff or only highly recommended,” according to Superintendent Jason Booher.

Others basically said it would follow CDC guidelines closely, however, masks will be optional. Essentially, masks are still strongly encouraged, but they’re a choice.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that any school district not requiring universal masking made the “wrong decision.” He also labeled it “inexcusable.”

While our stance is closely aligned with the governor’s, we will leave the harsh words to him on this subject. We do believe it’s fair to say the decision is risky.

As for northeastern Kentucky school boards, kudos to you all for making the correct call and doing what you think is best to protect the kids and their families.

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