Masks Required Beginning August 4

Letter from Superintendent North: Masks Required Beginning August 4
Posted on 08/03/2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thank you for the many emails, texts, and phone calls we have received at the district office over the last few weeks regarding protocols for returning to school. The safety of your children is our top priority, and we have been closely monitoring data on the spread of COVID and the vaccination rate in our county as we have worked to make the best decisions for our students and families.

At last night’s Board of Education meeting, it was determined that masks will be required in our buildings and buses for all students, staff, and visitors, effective August 4.

Our decisions are guided by the latest data and recommendations from our health authorities. Among the considerations:

  • Douglas County is now in a high transmission status; the two-week case rate and two-week positivity rate in Douglas County exceed the Georgia rate and the rates of all surrounding counties
  • Hospital admissions have increased
  • The highly contagious Delta variant now accounts for approximately 80% of cases
  • Only 35% of Douglas County residents are fully vaccinated, far below the state average

In addition, the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics are now recommending universal mask mandates, regardless of vaccination status.

From the many emails and calls I have received, I understand that we have parents who want a mask mandate and those who do not. I understand both sides of the issue. Please know that while we always value parental input, COVID protocols are based on the data and the guidance of healthcare professionals. Our goal is to keep our students as safe as possible. As the COVID numbers decrease and the vaccination rates increase in our community, we will consider making masks optional again.

We will continue to provide our students, staff, and families with opportunities to receive vaccinations onsite at our schools. We encourage our families to take advantage of these opportunities. By increasing vaccination rates and lowering the number of COVID cases, we hope to go back to “school as normal.”

Although our students adapted very well last year to wearing masks, we know that having a mask on all day can be exhausting. We will encourage our schools and teachers to find ways to give students a break from the masks during the day.

Finally, we know that some families will now want to change their learning option in light of the new mask mandate. Please see the information below on this process.

  • For those who would like to change to online learning, you may register for FLEX Live-Online. Click here to fill out an interest form. If the interest form is completed by August 6, you will be contacted by August 9 with your child’s schedule and login information. If you fill out the form after August 6, you will be scheduled as you are added. The deadline is August 13.
  • For those who signed up for FLEX Live-Online and would like to attend in person now that masks are required, you may also change your selection. You will receive an email to confirm whether you will stay with FLEX or whether you want to move to in-person learning. You will need to fill out this form by August 6. However, you may report to your zoned school on the first day of school, August 4, and the administrators will prepare a schedule for you.
  • Students must commit to FLEX or to in-person learning for the entire first semester, which ends December 17.

Again, let me emphasize that it is not our goal to have a year-long mask mandate. Our goals are to mitigate the spread of COVID so that our schools can remain open and to move to an optional mask policy when the COVID data and vaccination rates are more favorable for our schools and community.

We look forward to seeing our students in person five days a week beginning August 4. I remain optimistic that 2021-2022 will be an outstanding year. With your support, our students will learn and thrive.

Best regards,

Trent North Superintendent

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