FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Gov. Andy Beshear predicted Monday that Kentucky’s children will return to a “very normal setting” when the next school year begins as the state rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.
That should include a return to life at school without facial coverings, he said.
“I do not think there will be a mask mandate for schools in the fall,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference. “I don’t expect it based on what we are seeing with COVID.”
The past two academic years were dramatically disrupted by the coronavirus, but the governor sounded upbeat Monday about schools returning to normal in the fall.
“Right now, I think kids will be back in a very, very normal setting,” Beshear said. “That does include information where we believe there will the opportunity for kids younger than 12 to be vaccinated by the time they go back. I’m very much looking forward to a full, normal school year for my kids and for everybody else’s.”
The governor reported that more than 6,300 Kentucky youngsters ages 12 to 15 have received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the first few days since they became eligible for the shots. Beshear called that “a good start” and said efforts are ramping up to vaccinate that age group.
“We have a whole lot of school systems setting up vaccination clinics,” he said.
Beshear announced last week that Kentucky’s coronavirus-related capacity restrictions, as well as the state’s mask mandate, will largely end on June 11.
More than 1.9 million Kentuckians have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine, he said Monday. That represents 54% of the state’s adult population, including 80% of Kentuckians 65 and older, the governor said. Nearly 60% of Kentuckians ages 50-64 have gotten the shots. The percentage drops off among younger adults, with just 29% of Kentuckians ages 18-29 having received the shots.
“Folks, get vaccinated,” Beshear said. “We’ve lost 6,600 Kentuckians. We need you to protect yourself and those around you.”
Meanwhile, the incidence rate for new COVID-19 cases reported Monday was much higher among Kentucky youngsters and adults ages 20 to 49.
“This virus is shifting — who is getting infected — because of who is, but I guess more importantly, who is not getting the vaccine,” Beshear said.
The state reported 285 new coronavirus cases and six more virus-related deaths Monday. The statewide rate of positive cases was 2.78%.
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