The Pike County School District will continue to require masks inside its buildings as long as the county meets certain criteria, which will be based on statewide COVID tracking maps.

On Sept. 9, the Kentucky legislature passed a measure which ended the statewide mask mandate for schools.

Superintendent Reed Adkins said Sept. 10 that Pike County will continue to mandate that masks be worn by all people inside its buildings — including all students, staff and visitors — as long as Pike County remains in the “red” or “orange” levels, which are the two highest levels on the COVID-19 Current Incidence Rate Map, as reported by the Kentucky Department for Public Health. These levels represent a critically high rate of COVID-19 spreading within a specific county.

Adkins said that, if the county moves to “yellow" (the second-lowest rate of cases) for at least three days, masks will be recommended to be worn and not mandated.

“We’re under a mask requirement right now, absolutely, because we’re in the red and we’ll stay there as long as we’re in the red or orange,” he said. “There will be at least a three-day buffer before we can actually move into a recommendation, rather than a requirement. If we were to go back to ‘red’ for two days, then it would become a requirement, instead of a recommendation, again.

Adkins clarified that the district’s Board of Education has not yet approved this decision, but it will be the protocol that the district will follow until the board can meet and decide if any changes will be made to the plan.

“As long as our numbers are as high as they are, as well as our number of people hospitalized, we have to try to respect the safety of others,” Adkins said.

Pikeville Independent Schools have not yet announced a plan for responding to the legislature’s action. Districts have five days to decide whether to mandate masks before the legislation passed Sept. 9 goes into effect.