Mineral Wells Area News

To Mask or Not to Mask…Parents Will Decide

To Mask or Not to Mask…Parents Will Decide
August 06
10:53 2021
As parents begin loading up their shopping carts with school supplies, there is one item that is notably not on this year’s list that was on it last year….the ever controversial face mask.
Last year, most students were required to wear them as a mitigation strategy to keep kids safe from COVID-19 but this year, parents, not school district’s, will decide if their kids wear masks.

In late July, Texas Governor Greg Abbot issued an executive order addressing face coverings. He essentially barred school administrators from creating masking policies in their local districts. Per GA-38, school systems cannot require students or staff wear a mask. It addresses government mandated face coverings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents will be given the choice if they want to mask their student, but it will not be required.

John Kuhn, Mineral Wells ISD’s Superintendent says schools must follow the executive order. “We will abide by the governor’s executive order, as it is the law of the land. We will allow individuals to use face coverings if they choose to do so. We will continue to take some of the safety precautions we took last year, while adjusting others to comply with the governor’s executive orders, and we will continue to monitor the situation and stay in close communications with local and state health officials.”
Kuhn is pleased that the CDC and state officials are on the same page that in-person schooling is appropriate this year and many of the restrictions from last year are able to become a little less burdensome on everyone.
“I am so proud of our students, staff, and parents for navigating the last school year and working hard to maintain our focus on the well-being and academic growth of our students, and I’m confident that whatever government mandates we confront this year, we will come together as a learning community as we always do to do right by our students and staff. Ultimately, the only constant is change, and we will endeavor to adapt and overcome as things come at us this year.”
The Texas Education Association has issued a Public Health Guidance to inform parents, students and administration about COVID protocols for this upcoming school year. The guide addresses on-campus instruction as well as non-UIL extracurricular sports and activities.

This guide documents the “Required Actions if Individuals with Test-Confirmed Cases Have Been in a School”

1. If an individual who has been in a school is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must notify its local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

2. Upon receipt of information that any teacher, staff member, student, or visitor at a school is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must submit a report to the Texas Department of State Health Services via an online form.

What happens if your student tests positive? As provided in the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Rule, school systems must exclude students from attending school in person who are actively sick with COVID-19 or who have received a positive test result for COVID-19. Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms or is test-confirmed with COVID-19, until conditions for re-entry are met.

To help mitigate the risk of asymptomatic individuals being on campuses, school systems may provide and/or conduct recurring COVID-19 testing using rapid tests provided by the state or other sources. Testing can be conducted by staff with prior written permission of parents if they want their student tested.

What happens if my non-vaccinated student is exposed? For a reference, according to CDC guidelines, a close contact determination notates that vaccinated persons are not considered close contacts, therefore quarantine is not required. Given the data from 2020-21 showing very low COVID-19 transmission rates in a classroom setting and data demonstrating lower transmission rates among children than adults, school systems are not required to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing. If school systems are made aware that a student is a close contact, the school system will notify the student’s parents.

Parents of students who are determined to be close contacts of an individual with COVID-19 may opt to keep their students at home during the recommended stay-at-home period.

For individuals who are determined to be close contacts, a 14-day stay-at-home period was previously advised by the CDC based on the incubation period of the virus. CDC has since updated their guidance, and the stay-at-home period can end for students experiencing no symptoms on Day 10 after close contact exposure, if no subsequent COVID-19 testing is performed. Alternately, students can end the stay-at-home period if they receive a negative result from a PCR acute infection test after the close contact exposure ends.

TEA Public Heath Guidance

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