Kentucky School Advocate
By Brenna R. Kelly
Public health officials alarmed superintendents in May when they said they agreed with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that recommended using only every other seat on school buses.
After hearing the outcry that the directive would make it impossible for in-person classes to resume, Kentucky Department of Public Health (DPH) officials changed the guidance to call for a “layered approach.”
Emily Messerli, immunization branch manager for DPH, told superintendents during a June 2 webcast that buses could be fully loaded if students’ temperatures are taken before they board, students wear masks and hand sanitizer is available.
“We understand it’s just not feasible to have students sit one per seat,” Messerli said.
She noted that students will only be on a bus for a short time but students can’t be that close in the classroom because they spend six to seven hours there, increasing the likelihood of transmission.
Messerli noted that though families should be expected to provide masks for their children to wear on the bus and in the classroom, districts should plan to have masks on hand for students who forget.
Several superintendents relayed through Interim Commissioner Kevin Brown during the webcast their concern that “cultural issues” in their districts would lead to students not being sent to school with masks.
DPH Deputy Commissioner Dr. Connie White noted that masks will be particularly important on the bus if they are fully loaded and that schools should set an example for the community.
“We are not going to have the mask police coming to your school,” White said. “The more you can get compliance, the healthier your school community is going to be, and that’s all you can do.”