JCPS returning to mask-optional status as COVID-19 rates drop

Masks will be optional in Jefferson County Public Schools starting Monday, Sept. 12, as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations ease.

Masks have been mandatory indoors and on buses since this summer because the county was in the CDC’s red zone — the highest risk level for communities. COVID-19 transmission is finally slowing down in Jefferson County, moving the district into the yellow zone, or medium-risk category.

Under JCPS’ health protocols, masks are optional when the county moves into the yellow or green zones based on the CDC’s community levels map for COVID-19. Risk levels are based on the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases and the availability of hospital beds.

JCPS is the only district in the state that still mandates wearing masks, and among only a handful across the country. Other Kentucky districts recommend masking when their communities are in the red zone, but they don’t require them. 

The CDC and the Kentucky Department of Public Health recommend universal masking in indoor K-12 settings when communities are in the red zone.

According to the data aggregating website Burbio, out of the U.S. largest 500 school districts, JCPS was one of three still requiring masks as of Friday.