The Bowling Green Independent School District currently plans to return to school after the holiday break with masks as an option for students and staff.

The decision follows approval by the school district’s board of education Wednesday, which voted unanimously to do away with BGISD’s previous mask requirement.

“We have to move forward,” said BGISD Superintendent Gary Fields, who said district leadership will continue to reevaluate its masking policy on a monthly basis, informed by local data.

Fields said more information will be shared with families before students return to school Jan. 3. In the meantime, the school district is focusing on assisting families and students affected by last week’s tornado cluster, which has destroyed hundreds of homes and killed at least 17 people.

On an ongoing basis, Fields said the school district’s masking policy will be informed by local data, such as the rate of in-school positive coronavirus cases and quarantines and local hospital capacity.

Last month, the school board ultimately decided not to go through with Fields’ recommendation to end the mask mandate, hoping to give 5- to 11-year-olds time to get the coronavirus vaccine recently approved for that age group.

Now, Fields believes “everybody’s had an opportunity” to get that vaccine and “it’s time to attempt to do this,” he said.

The district’s schools have distributed thousands of face masks, Fields said, but they aren’t getting much use outside school. So far, Fields said, the district’s COVID-19 numbers have remained steady, and 546 out of 640 total district employees have been fully vaccinated.

Still, Fields said district leaders have the fast-spreading omicron coronavirus variant “on the radar.”

“If the data skews one way or the other,” the district will adjust its policies accordingly, Fields said.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the board also conducted an initial review of the 2022-23 school calendar. Fields said the most significant change is that the first day of school next year is proposed to fall on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

With schools closed this week, Fields said the district is weighing its options for how to make up those five days during the current school year.

In other news, the demolition of the old Bowling Green High School structure is set to officially begin Monday, Fields said.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit

Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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