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Masks optional at Madison Co. Schools; State school board member requests clarification from health officer

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 10:46 PM CDT
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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - In less than three weeks, students in north Alabama will be putting on their backpacks and start a new school year. Thursday, the Madison County School Board discussed what the year will look like.

Students and faculty can choose to wear a mask or not, regardless if they’ve been vaccinated.

But the superintendent says the district will keep up a strict cleaning policy for the schools and are asking parents to still check their child’s temperature before sending them out the door.

“We’re moving forward with the mindset of continuing high levels of learning for all of our students,” Allen Perkins, Madison County Schools superintendent said.

Students will head back to Madison County Schools on August 4th at Level Zero, meaning with very few restrictions.

Field trips, sports and eating in the cafeteria will take place and masks are optional. But, Superintendent Allen Perkins says the district is ready to add restrictions if needed.

“Masks are optional at level one, but they may be required if the environment and if the guidance we get from health officials say that it needs to move in that direction,” he explained.

However, that’s not what the Centers for Disease Control is recommending.

New guidance published last week encourages every student or faculty member to wear a mask if not vaccinated.

That’s what brought State School Board member Wayne Reynolds to the meeting Thursday.

“I think you have a great plan, and I hope you can stay at level zero. One of the other realities we face is Alabama has the lowest immunization rate in the nation,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds tells us he needs to hear what the state attorney general and state health officer think about the CDC’s new guidance before students return to class.

“We’re dealing with human beings. We’re dealing with students, parents and faculty and we need to do it the right way. And we have enough time and advanced warning to do it the right way. And as a member of the state board, I don’t want to institute a policy or give advice that is not substantiated by the medical community or the legal advice that exists in our state,” he explained.

Reynolds says he’s reached out to Dr. Eric Mackey, requesting clarification on how Attorney General Marshall and Dr. Scott Harris are interpreting these guidelines.

When the state mask mandate expired last April, Dr. Harris left it up to the schools to decide.

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