Vaccination Information provided by Schools Superintendent Karen Gray
Hi, this is Karen Gray, Superintendent of Lincoln County School District. Today, I’d like to share a serious update to let you know that we are weighing all the factors that removing the universal masking mandate might mean for our students and staff.
First, what we have now is universal masking. This allows for “test to stay” for close contacts of a positive case meaning that close contacts are tested at school. They can be tested at school because everyone is masked and if found “test-negative,” we know the student does not have covid and can remain in school. Close contacts that are fully vaccinated do not need to test and are allowed to stay. That translates into more time in school.
Once ” test to stay” is not an option, the process of contact tracing may be increased. This means that anyone unvaccinated found within 6 feet of a positive case for 15 minutes or more in one day will need to quarantine at home. This is regardless of whether or not that unvaccinated person who is a close contact was wearing a mask. That does not mean that we now have to go back to keeping kids 6 feet apart. Also, we have never stopped quarantining and isolating. They are still 10 days, with 5 days at home. The following 5 days you are back, you must wear a mask regardless of the mask choice.
Another factor to be aware of, as of today, public transportation, including bus riding, is governed by federal laws and masks are and will be mandatory for bus riders until such time as that regulation is lifted. Masks will continue to be worn on buses beyond March 19 for now.
The best way to ensure a person has more time in school and is prepared, no matter which way we decide, is to be up-to-date on COVID vaccinations. Again, individuals who are in close contact with a positive case, and up-to-date on COVID vaccinations, can stay in school instead of being quarantined. Up to date means that people 18 and older have the fully required amount of vaccines plus a booster. Kids 5-17 just need to have their vaccinations.
We will communicate with you again once a decision has been made. We would like to have a decision made by Monday, March 14 so that we can provide the community and school staff plenty of lead time as the state indoor mask mandate for schools ends on March 19. School districts are required to work closely with Local Public Health Agencies regarding this decision. We will be in consultation with them before making our decision.
I hope this message helps to clarify the outcomes, either way.
Thank you. Stay well and stay safe.
Dr. Karen Gray, Superintendent of the Lincoln County School District