UPDATE: Talladega County Schools to extend mask requirement
TALLADEGA Co., Ala. (WBRC) - UPDATE: The mask requirement inside all Talladega County school facilities and on school buses for all students (K-12), employees, and visitors will continue for another three week period. On October 8, Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Lacey said she will reevaluate the current data and communicate with parents moving forward.
Dr. Lacey said in a Facebook post: Thank you for your cooperation and your patience as we continue to navigate challenges associated with COVID-19. Currently, there are 152 positive student and 16 employee cases (2.1%) confirmed district-wide. This is a 51.4% decrease in the number of positive cases reported.
The data suggests that since August 30 when the temporary mask requirement began, the number of positive cases experienced an overall decline. In fact, this week the number of positive cases has been the lowest since the start of the school year. The number of individuals identified as close contacts has also decreased significantly.
The health and safety of our students and staff will always be our top priority.
ORIGINAL: Beginning, Monday, August 30, 2021, masks will be required districtwide at Talladega County Schools inside all school facilities and on school buses for students (K-12), employees, and visitors.
The mandate will be in place for a three week period. Conditions will be monitored and updated on September 20, 2021.
Talladega County Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Lacey made the announcement Friday, August 27.
Here is the full letter:
On behalf of the entire educational team in Talladega County Schools, it has been our pleasure to welcome your child back for full-time in person learning. Thank you for your cooperation and support as we navigate a new year with challenges associated with COVID-19.
School has been in session for thirteen days. During these thirteen days, 319 positive student and 27 employee cases (4.4%) have been confirmed district-wide. In addition, multiple close contacts have been identified. For your review, the “Covid Tracker” has been implemented to allow you to monitor the number of positive cases for both adults and students in your child’s school daily. To access the tracker, simply log in to your child’s Google Classroom account to review the data.
Moving forward, I want to prepare you for possible changes in Talladega County’s reopening plan. Currently, masks are highly recommended for all students, employees, and visitors. Beginning, Monday, August 30, 2021, masks will be required district wide inside all school facilities and on school buses for students (K-12), employees, and visitors. This will be in place for a three week period. Conditions will be monitored and updated on September 20, 2021.
In schools where positive cases continue to rise, temporary virtual learning could be reinstated as an additional mitigation strategy. A shortage in both teacher and bus substitutes could impact in-person learning should a staff member have to be out of their assigned role. Just this week, athletic and other extracurricular activities have been cancelled in certain schools and will continue to be eliminated if the number of COVID positive cases continue to increase.
The health and safety of our students and staff will always be our top priority. For this reason, we continue sanitization and hygiene protocols in our facilities and on our buses. We practice social distancing when possible and continue to follow the guidance of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH):
- Individuals who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination should consider getting vaccinated as quickly as possible in order to avoid contraction and spread of the disease.
- The Pfizer vaccine is currently approved for students ages twelve and older.
- Parents should be mindful that classified positive cases will continue to require sustained isolation/quarantine for an appropriate number of days according to the current health regulations in place at the time of diagnosis.
- Students who are found to have been within 3-6 feet of a positive case for 15 minutes, cumulative over a 24-hour period will be identified as a close contact if either the infected student or the exposed student(s) were not appropriately masked.
In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the following students are excluded from being identified as close contacts:
- Students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time.
- Asymptomatic fully vaccinated students
- Asymptomatic students that tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days and have recovered
- Parents/guardians will be notified if their student is a close contact and are asked to monitor for symptoms.
- Adults who are fully vaccinated and voluntarily provide proof of vaccination are not subject to any restrictions.
In closing, I want to reassure you that conditions are being monitored very closely. My goal is to resume a sense of normalcy in all our schools so that students can enjoy their school year with as few interruptions as possible. Your support is needed and appreciated now and in the days to come.
Suzanne Lacey, Ed.D.
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