To Remove Masks or Not?

It sounds like a simple question.  But it is not, and that is the question that the USD327 Board of Education spent a large amount of time discussing last night at their monthly meeting.  A decision was made by the BOE to make masks optional starting tomorrow, Wednesday April 14th and that all other protocols would remain in place.  That seemingly simple decision does have large ramifications that the administration and many staff members are finding solutions for in the coming days and perhaps weeks. 

Covid has not suddenly disappeared because we have made masks optional and that is what is so difficult to comprehend.  In fact we have three active cases in the district at this time.  Since Covid has not disappeared, the rules set forth by KDHE and County Health regarding isolation and quarantine are still in effect. 

This means that if we cannot maintain proper 6 feet of social distancing and the 10 minute of exposure rules, students and staff COULD STILL BE QUARANTINED.  There are many important events that still need to occur prior to the end of the year, concerts, prom, play days, field trips, graduation, and athletic events, including regional and state competitions.  USD327 understands that quarantining may put these events at risk for our students.  We want our students, parents and patrons to know this as well. 

Concerning Covid exposure, we want you to know:

  • Isolation is still in effect if you test positive
  • Quarantine can occur if you are exposed without masks.
  • Per County Health - keep in mind these basic parameters and Quarantine can be avoided IF:
    • 6 feet of social distance at all times OR
    • within 6 feet for less than 10 minutes
  • Within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes, Quarantine can be avoided IF:
    • BOTH PEOPLE, the positive person and contact person, are wearing Masks OR
    • Contact person is Vaccinated OR
    • Contact person has tested positive within the last 6 months

The following bullet points are just a few concerns where the “no simple answer comes in” and unfortunately the district could place students and staff at risk of being quarantined:

  • One-on-one close teacher instruction
  • Small group discussions
  • Music, both instrumental and choral – it deals with high airborne concentrations
  • Rooms in which we are not able to spread out and keep 6 feet of distance
  • Bus rides
  • Special Education with close teacher and para support
  • Situations where a student or staff member are at risk due to health concerns

These are just a few of the situations that arose earlier today and will need solved.  We are sure there will be others that we have not yet thought about.  Therefore, just like at the beginning of the school year, USD327 would ask for your and your student’s patience, flexibility, understanding, and of course, GRACE during the coming days.  Please know that your student may be told to wear a mask in the coming days if placed in one of the above bulleted situations or other at-risk scenario not yet thought of. 

Our task in the coming days is to keep all students and staff healthy and safe as well as quarantine free.  We do not want any students at risk of not being able to participate so we want to find solutions that do that.  We want to do that as quickly as possible.  We have had a solid school year with successes and challenges and the finish line is in sight.  Let us stay focused so we can close the books on a memorable  year.

Finish Strong and Be GREAT!