OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — According to a news release from Westside Community Schools, masks will be required in all district facilities and for all grade levels, from pre-k to 12th grade. The mask requirement starts Monday, August 30 and runs until September 24.
Masks will be required inside all Westside schools regardless of vaccination status for all students, staff, parents, and visitors.
The statement from Superintendent, Mike Lucas continued, "This decision, that many will likely applaud while many others will likely disapprove of, was not made lightly. Ultimately, it is what we think needs to be done to KEEP OUR STUDENTS SAFE AND IN SCHOOL, which remains a top priority. It also allows us to keep our staff safe and better protect against staff quarantines and staff availability that is needed to meet the needs of our students."
The primary factor for this change is that we’ve seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases at our middle school and high school this week.
- Last week, through contact tracing protocols, we were able to determine with confidence that all confirmed cases at WMS and WHS were likely NOT related to school.
- That changed late this week as several cases look to likely be connected to one another.
We will continue to monitor this difficult situation around the clock. We will make an updated announcement in the middle of September about what adjustments, if any, we will make for September 27th and beyond.Things we will look at to help determine when to potentially do away with the requirement of masks include:
- Throughout this week, we’ve also had an increase in the number of 7th-12th grade students needing to be quarantined as a result of direct exposures without masks. This was another driving force in our decision-making process.
- According to health department recommendations, masking up will greatly enhance our students’ chances of not having to quarantine if they encounter a direct exposure. Again, we want to keep our students in school as much as we can.
- We also factored in community-wide data that shows 8+ weeks of overall increases of total confirmed cases per 100,000 residents throughout Douglas County.
- We’ve also analyzed the number of confirmed cases of school-aged children throughout Douglas County and the trend is not positive.
- On August 7th, there were 26 cases of 0-4 year olds. On August 21st, there were 58.
- On August 7th, there were 45 cases of 5-9 year olds. On August 21st, there were 74.
- On August 7th, there were 67 cases of 10-14 year olds. On August 21st, there were 83.
- On August 7th, there were 53 cases of 15-19 year olds. On August 21st, there were 71.
- Number of confirmed cases within our school district decreasing instead of increasing by week.
- Number of quarantines within our school district decreasing instead of increasing by week.
- Number of total confirmed cases per 100,000 residents per week decreasing instead of increasing by week within Douglas County.
- Number of total school-aged children with confirmed cases per week decreasing instead of increasing by week within Douglas County.
- Access to vaccinations for our elementary-aged students allowing their families to make a decision as to whether or not the vaccine is something they want for their child(ren).
Lucas added "We know that 'masks' have become a very divisive topic and we appreciate all points of view. We are doing what we think is best to ensure that we can keep our students and staff as safe as possible, and in school so they aren’t negatively impacted by confirmed cases or quarantines.We invite you to review the full details of our updated Safe Return To School Plan, posted for view and/or download here: westside66.org/domain/408"
Questions and concerns can be directed to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucas said the school will do its best to respond within 72 hours.