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Bowling Green High School seniors Grace and Ian Tweedy look for their signatures on the Commitment to Graduating banner the Class of 2020 signed their freshmen year before walking across the graduation stage in the Arena to receive their diplomas on Sunday, May 17, 2020. (Grace Ramey/photo@bgdailynews.com)

After Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order Friday that all but ended pandemic restrictions – except in a few high-risk settings – Kentucky’s Department of Education pulled its Healthy At School guidance, meaning that masks and social distancing will no longer be mandated in schools.

The department said school districts may – at their discretion – continue to implement tactics for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in light of changing conditions in their communities.

People can still wear masks if they choose, the department said.

Going forward, however, following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be treated as a recommendation, not a requirement for schools. In addition, the previous requirement from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services regarding school COVID-19 positivity reporting is no longer in effect, KDE said.

Superintendents for Warren County Public Schools and the Bowling Green Independent School District said they plan to continue their mitigation strategies but are lifting their mask mandates.

“We have lifted all mandated restrictions, including the mask mandate,” WCPS Superintendent Rob Clayton told the Daily News on Monday. “We will continue with good health hygiene protocols, including frequent hand-washing, sanitizing stations and air filtration devices. We will also continue contact tracing.”

Bowling Green schools Superintendent Gary Fields said his district is also lifting the requirement to wear face coverings in its schools.

It will, however, continue its partnership with Graves Gilbert Clinic for school-based health professionals, which “provides us with on-site testing and contact tracing,” Fields said.

The district’s schools will also continue to make hygiene and clean spaces a priority, he said.

The CDC is expected to update its guidance for the 2021-22 school year in coming weeks, the Kentucky Department of Education said. KDE said it will review other guidance documents the agency has issued and make changes as needed. Updated guidance can be used to help schools plan for the coming school year, the department said.

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

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

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