Three men and one woman stand in front of a school holding a flag with a face mask on it that says, "When you move, you mask."

Frankfort Independent Superintendent Houston Barber, from left, and Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative (CKEC) CEO David Young hold a new banner reminding students of the importance of wearing a mask. Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman and Phil Blandford, Central Kentucky general manager for Cintas, one of four corporate sponsors, also attended the presentation. CKEC is partnering with Cintas, American Fidelity, Thermal Equipment and The Signature Club to provide “When you move, you mask” banners to each of CKEC’s 22 member districts.
Photo by Jim Gaines, Aug. 7, 2020

By Jim Gaines

When students return to Central Kentucky schools this year, they will be greeted by visible reminders of the importance of masking.

The Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative (CKEC) is partnering with Cintas, American Fidelity, Thermal Equipment and The Signature Club to provide “When you move, you mask” banners to each of CKEC’s 22 member districts.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman joined CKEC Chief Executive Officer David Young, Frankfort Independent Schools Superintendent Houston Barber and Phil Blandford, general manager for Cintas in Lexington and Central Kentucky, for presentation of the first banner at Frankfort High School on Aug. 7.

“At the forefront of every decision is the health and safety of our kids and our teachers and our staff,” said Coleman, who also serves as secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Safety is a vital component in for students to thrive at school and feel a sense of normality, Blandford said.

“It’s so important to us to help support the children in staying safe,” he said.

Frankfort Independent Schools hasn’t decided whether to put the banner in its elementary school or high school, but it will be placed prominently to let everyone entering know Frankfort Independent Schools are serious about health and safety, Barber said.

“We are going to put it up and display it in a big way,” he said.

The banners, at a cost of $120 each, were made by Instant Signs of Lexington, Young said.

So far 29 have been made, Jones said. That’s one for each high school in CKEC’s coverage area, but districts can put them in other schools if they wish. More banners may be made to cover more schools, she said.

Young said he anticipates all banners being will be delivered to schools by Aug. 14.

The banners are part of CKEC’s “Stay Safe at School” mask campaign.

“We are just supporting our districts in any way they need us to support them,” Young said. “This is just kind of step one.”

The organization is seeking donors for a follow-up idea: putting mask reminder ads on the outside of Lextran buses, said Dee Jones, CKEC’s director of District Support Services. How many signs are placed will depend on the number of sponsors. Fayette County has 55 public schools, so it’s an important place to emphasize mask wearing, Jones said.

These efforts complement the Coverings for Kids program that First Lady Britainy Beshear announced Aug. 4 in partnership with Coleman. Coverings for Kids urges Kentuckians to donate cloth face masks to their local schools for those who may not have them or who need a replacement during the day. School districts, in turn, are encouraged to set up central drop-off points for mask collection.

When students walk into schools, it’s important for them to see that the expectation of mask-wearing is in effect, Coleman said.

This is an anxious time for children and adults alike, as the public health situation and corresponding guidance changes frequently, she said.

“But one thing is consistent: when you’re in public, you need to have a mask on,” Coleman said.