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‘We want our students to be safe’: Eastern Kentucky School Districts face decision prior to classes beginning

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 9:24 PM EDT
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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - To mask or not to mask is the decision that many school districts are tasked with making as new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control were announced.

“What would their recommendations be? What would be the safest way to get out students back into in-person instruction?” Letcher County Superintendent Denise Yonts said. “And that’s our priority. We want our kids in schools but we want them to be there safely.”

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread and transmission rates in Kentucky increase, school officials across the state are being forced to make a quick decision.

“It is discouraging, but we had to kind of just refocus ourselves, make sure that we’re making the right decisions to keep our kids safe so that we can get them to school,” Yonts said.

Educators are hopeful that the vaccine will help protect their students.

“I hope that people just know that this is something that’s going to help us get back to a normal world,” Lee County Superintendent Sarah Wasson said. “I really think that the vaccine is our hope.”

Events over the last week have helped them prepare for when students do plan to return to their respective campuses in the coming weeks.

“That responsibility weighs heavy on us and that’s why we want to layer our mitigation strategies,” Yonts said. “We’re not just masking, we’re going to social distance, we’re going to disinfect, sanitize, clean.”

Yonts and her staff made the decision to require masks and social distancing for the fall, all with the hope of being able to drop them sooner rather than later.

“We put all that together to try to make the best decision to be the safest as possible,” Yonts said. “And our goal is the safer we are now, the longer we can stay in-person and maybe the quicker we can unmask.”

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