The current PK-6 mask mandate is scheduled to lapse at the end of December, 60 days after vaccinations became available for students under the age of twelve. Last evening, the Mount Vernon Community School District School Board voted in favor of ending the current mandate as of December 31, 2021, and replacing it with protocols that would only go into effect for a limited time should conditions with COVID-19 and other student illnesses support returning to the temporary wearing of masks. Here is how the new protocols would work:
- A mask mandate would only go into effect if a specific building reached a level of 2% of its students testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, AND the overall absence due to illness percentage reaches 8% at the same time. Therefore, one building may put a short term mandate in place, while the others would not be required to do so.
- The mandate would only go into place after the numbers outlined in #1 have been reached for at least three consecutive school days. Once in place, the mandate would stay in place until the nurses and I reach the conclusion that the mandate can safely be dropped.
- It is our current thought that such a mandate would remain in place until we see several days of going below the 2%/8% threshold. We are confident that any such mandate would be for a brief period of time, and the 2%/8% threshold has not yet been met this year in any of the buildings. These new protocols go into effect on January 3, 2022.
- With these new protocols in place, mask wearing is optional and recommended for all students, staff, and visitors in all three buildings beginning January 3, 2022.
- If any of the three buildings reaches the 2%/8% threshold, masks would be required for all spectators at all indoor activities and events in the District. The District will also review the case numbers at that time to decide if it would be safe to postpone any activity until the case numbers return to a safer level.
- Most preschool students are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, and we are still discussing how to address mask wearing in the preschool classrooms. We will send a separate communication to the parents of preschool students once that decision has been made.
- The issue of whether school districts may implement mask mandates is still working its way through the courts, and thus the new protocols are subject to whatever conclusions are reached in the courts.
- Please remember that federal guidelines require the mandatory wearing of masks for all students while riding any form of school transportation. Please remind your children of this requirement, and remember that no exemptions are allowed with regard to this federal guideline.
This is a lot of information so in summary . . .
- The current PK-6 mask mandate will end on December 31, 2021. When students return to school on January 3rd, there will be no mask mandates in place. We are still recommending that students wear masks, especially if not vaccinated.
- A temporary mandate will be put into place for a specific building if for three straight days it has 2% of its students testing positive for COVID-19, AND 8% of its students are absent due to illness. These mandates would be temporary, being removed once the absence numbers drop to acceptable levels.
- Unless a major spike in COVID-19 case numbers is experienced, we are confident that we will likely not hit the 2%/8% threshold, and thus mask wearing will remain optional for students and staff.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we continue to keep our students and staff safe during the pandemic. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.