Paducah Independent School District to Repeal Uniform Masking Mandate

Abigail Wurth, Staff Writer

Students and staff at Paducah Independent Schools will no longer be required to wear a mask.  This announcement comes from Superintendent Dr. Donald Shively in a joint news conference held with Superintendent Carter from McCracken County this past Wednesday, Oct. 27.  This change comes with McCracken County reporting below 20.0 cases per 100,000 on the Kentucky COVID-19 incidence map and three days at or below 15.0 cases per 100,000.  Based on these incidence rates, masking will become optional for staff, faculty and students, however masks will still be required to ride the bus to stay in compliance with the federal mandate and masks will be required for students participating in the Test to Stay Program.

With these masking changes, there are also a few changes to the quarantine regulations. If a student is exposed to another student who tests positive and the exposed student is unvaccinated, then the exposed student must quarantine or participate in the Test to Stay program to continue to come to school.  If the exposed student chooses to participate in the Test to Stay program, that student will be required to wear a mask while at school.  However, if the exposed student is masked, fully vaccinated or has natural immunity (documented positive test within the last 90 days), then the exposed student will not be required to quarantine.

Regarding the new protocols, Superintendent Dr. Donald Shively said, “We’ve had several meetings with local physicians who have helped develop useful metrics. The doctors on the committee are local, they have a variety of specialties, and they have children in our school systems. The doctors on the committee will meet with us each week going forward and we will look at the data to make an informed decision about masking protocols for the coming weeks. The longer we deal with COVID, the more we know. This will help us make better decisions on how to mitigate the community spread of the virus.”

This committee, along with the Purchase District Health Department will meet with the superintendents of both McCracken County and Paducah Independent school systems to discuss current incidence rates for the local community. If there are more than two days “in the red” (25.0 or more cases per 100,000), then the committee will discuss the need for a return to universal masking. Announcements regarding new masking policies will be announced on Friday afternoons and will become effective the following week.