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Arab City Schools to require masks through September 3

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:16 PM CDT
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ARAB, Ala. (WAFF) - Arab City Schools will require universal masking for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors regardless of vaccination status effective August 3, 2021.

Administrators said their goal is to keep our students and faculty safe and in school.

The CDC and the Alabama Department of Public Health recommend layered prevention strategies. The CDC identifies universal masking, spacing, and vaccinations (when age-appropriate) as the most effective strategies for students to remain in classrooms. This also allows more parents to remain at work and most importantly prevents an outbreak in the school that could spread to the community at large.

With COVID cases on the rise, Arab City Schools Superintendent Johnny Berry decided to be proactive and make face coverings mandatory.

Students and staff will head back into the classroom in person on Monday, which he says his top priority is to keep them safe.

“We had several kids in our band program, and we had some issues in the city with other organizations. When we saw the tool kit on Monday and saw that we have an opportunity to reduce our quarantine numbers based on our masks, we can go down to 3 feet from 6 feet, so we have the opportunity to keep students in class as much as possible,” said Berry.

Each school will have a nurse available on campus, and safety measures are in place to ensure buildings are sanitized.

Berry said last year, several teachers retired. The district hired more teachers, including permanent subs that will be available in every building.

Berry tells 48 News this will help with the learning loss to get students back on track.

“We’re working on that now, looking at our test data. We have instructional coaches at every school, and we have interventionists that we’ve hired to do everything we can to get our kids back to where they need to be,” said Berry.

According to Berry, the school district will keep track of covid cases and quarantines for students and staff.

In the indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who are 3 to 6 feet of an infected person if both are wearing masks. Close contacts will not be sent home if they meet one of the following criteria:

● Vaccinated and asymptomatic

● Tested positive for and recovered from COVID-19 in the prior 3 months and are asymptomatic

● 3 feet or more of an infected person and asymptomatic

The mask requirement will be in effect through Friday, September 3. Arab City Schools will continue to monitor the local COVID-19 data in hopes that conditions improve and the mask requirement will become optional in the near future.

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