(Frankfort, Ky.) The Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA), in partnership with the National School Boards Association and the KSBA Educational Foundation, is donating 80,000 cloth masks to public school students in Kentucky. KSBA will donate the masks directly to the state’s Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC), a division of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
“Our goal, from day one, has been to distribute these masks to some of our Commonwealth’s most underserved communities,” said KSBA Executive Director Kerri Schelling. “We cannot think of better partners to help us do that than the dedicated women and men of Kentucky’s Family Resource and Youth Services Centers.”
The masks are being made available to FRYSCs ahead of Sept. 28, the date when most of Kentucky’s school districts will return to in-person instruction for the first time since March. While the pandemic has limited in-person programming on school grounds, it has only increased the need for many of the critical services provided to families by FRYSCs according to state FRYSC Director Melissa Goins.
“It is well documented that this is a time of increased stress and anxiety for many of our families. While we can’t take away viruses, grief, racial trauma, and the other things impacting our students, we can connect with students via home visits and calls, coordinate safe opportunities for students to engage in pro-social activities, and do our level best to get them what they need to engage in virtual learning,” explained Goins. “We can do things to mitigate the impact of the 2020 experience. It is our responsibility.”
KSBA, representing Kentucky’s 857 locally elected school board members, wants to ensure nothing stands in the way of these essential student and family services.
“As our FRYSCs strive for educational equity and as they assist families to overcome non-academic hurdles, we hope these masks can play a small role in their continued success,” Schelling said.
Those hurdles can become even more daunting in the wake of COVID-19. Luckily, Kentucky’s network of 857 FRYSCs, operating in 1,200 schools statewide, makes resources available to more than 600,000 students and their families.
“Social and emotional challenges, past and re-occurring trauma, and certain family and economic situations can have an impact on student learning and success in school,” Goins said. “In Kentucky, we are fortunate to have a dedicated place in our educational system that focuses on these barriers to learning as an equally important part of student success.”