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House committee forwards bill to ban mask mandates in Kentucky schools

A bill that could do away with mandatory masking in Kentucky schools is moving on from a House committee.
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 11:40 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A bill that could do away with mandatory masking in Kentucky schools is moving on from a House committee.

A year ago, lawmakers in Frankfort passed legislation that would take away the governor’s ability to mandate masks in schools. They gave that power directly to the school districts.

Tuesday, the House Standing Committee on Education was forwarded House Bill 51. The bill would take that power away from the school districts and give it directly to parents.

“Parents should be able to make their own decisions regarding masks through high school,” said Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion. “College students can vote for president, shouldn’t they also be allowed to make their own masking decisions.”

Bechler, along with five other Republican legislators, sponsored this bill.

A big point of contention for lawmakers was that stripping power away from school boards would directly go against local control, which they’ve prioritized in past legislative sessions.

“I don’t understand why we’re taking away that opportunity to have local control. So, can you explain that to me?” asked Rep. Jeffery Donohue, D-Louisville.

“With regard to local control, I don’t know of anything more local than a parent making the decision whether or not their child should have to wear a mask,” Rep. Bechler said.

Bechler argued that masks are doing more to hurt students than help keep them safe going as far as to say that masks do not protect a person from contracting or spreading COVID-19.

“If the bill itself is acknowledging that there are mutated and multiple stains of COVID 19, why would we not want to protect ourselves and our most vulnerable, our children, from this global virus?” questioned Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville.

“Because masks don’t work,” Bechler responded.

“That’s not true,” Rep. Scott said during the exchange.

According to the CDC’s website cites at least 10 studies that confirm a reduced risk of infection from wearing masks.

The bill passed through the committee 12-7. However, a handful of those yes votes were made so that further debate could happen.

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