Special session ends after Senate, House override governor’s veto of bill that would end mask mandate for Ky. schools

Thursday is day 3 of a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly to consider...
Thursday is day 3 of a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly to consider COVID-19-related legislation in Frankfort.(WKYT)
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 11:30 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky lawmakers voted to adjourn the special session late Thursday night after both chambers voted to override Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2.

SB1 is an education bill that would end the Kentucky Board of Education’s statewide mask mandate and give more flexibility for NTI days and remote learning.

SB2 includes several provisions, including banning future restrictions on nursing home restrictions and a statewide mask mandate until June 2023.

Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed both bills earlier in the night.

This veto from the governor comes just hours after a lengthy debate in the House Thursday evening as they took up controversial SB1.


“We have to protect them. Since we took over the power, it’s our job, we have to protect them. They’re scared. Their schools are overrun, half of them have had to shut down already,” Rep. Angie Hatton said.

“There are aspects of this bill that perhaps don’t go as far as some members would prefer to see. I am appreciative of the fact that it returns the mask mandate back to local control,” Rep. Savannah Maddox said.

While banning the mask mandate, the bill also gives districts 20 remote learning days that can be used at individual school and even classroom levels, should an outbreak happen. Districts already have 10 district-wide NTI days. But education leaders say the bill fails in other categories

“We’re disappointed. There’s a lot of things that we would have liked to have seen in the bill that would have provided for additional health and safety for our faculty, our staff, our students,” KEA President Eddie Campbell said.

Campbell watched Thursday as the House debated, and eventually passed Senate Bill 1. Now the education organization is drawing up a plan to work with districts to implement local mask mandates.

“The KEA has members in every single school district all across the state. We organize very well. We’ll organize around their boards of education to let them know what health and safety issues and concerns that we have as educators, how we need to keep our students healthy and safe,” Campbell said.

Many school districts across Kentucky have said the mask mandate still stands for now. Others are adopting their own policies.

“We will be working with Kentucky’s school districts as they continue to try to keep students in school safely and do our best to manage the consequences of the decisions made by our legislature in this special session,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass in a statement.

Fayette County Public Schools Board Chair Tyler Murphy said in a Facebook post Thursday that he’s adding an item to the board’s work session Monday to consider requiring universal indoor masking for all FCPS teachers, staff, students, and visitors.

Murphy emphasized that the current mask requirement in Fayette County Public Schools remains in effect.

Several other bills were passed and sent to the governor Thursday night.

Senate Bill 3 would earmark $69 million in federal funds to address the pandemic.

You can find a link to all of the Senate Bills put forth in the special session here.

You can find a link to all of the House Bills put forth in the special session here.

Lawmakers will not reconvene until Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 for the next General Assembly, or if the governor were to call another special session.

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