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Millard Public Schools to require masks at elementary schools if certain conditions are met

Millard Public Schools Administration Building
Posted at 2:26 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 15:26:27-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Earlier this month the Millard Public Schools Board voted to make mask-wearing optional. Today the district said it will require masks at elementary schools if certain conditions are met.

Wanting to keep schools open and free of disruptions, the district has chosen to implement the following:

  • If one (1) confirmed case of COVID-19 has occurred in a classroom, all others in the class are required to mask for FOURTEEN (14) days following the last unmasked exposure.
  • If two (2) or more classrooms in a school are closed due to COVID-19 transmission within a 14 day period, ALL students and staff in the school will be required to wear a mask at all times in the school building for TWO (2) incubation periods (TWENTY-EIGHT (28) days) following the second class closure.

The announcement comes after four elementary classrooms were impacted by clusters of COVID-19 cases which led to the closure of classrooms and remote learning.

Read the district’s full release:

Dear Millard Families,

I want to take a minute and update you on new guidance and response to COVID-19. As I have previously stated, we have to anticipate that we may have to close a classroom, grade level, or school, and we may have to temporarily mask a classroom, grade level, or school.

Our schools are a direct reflection of our community. When cases of COVID-19 are low in the community, there is less potential for cases being brought into our schools. When cases rise in the community, it puts us more at risk for a case of COVID-19 being brought into the classroom. We ask that all of us be mindful of exposures outside of school and watch carefully for symptoms. If your child is sick, do not send them to school.

Elementary Schools

After two weeks of school, we have seen clusters of COVID-19 in four elementary classrooms. These rooms have been closed, and students are learning from home. We have also had to temporarily require masking in one elementary school as a response to multiple cluster cases.

Our goal is to keep our schools open and free from disruptions such as this. We want students in school where they learn best.

In order to accomplish this, we are following updated direction from the Douglas County Health Department when responding to a case in an elementary setting. When a case of COVID-19 is brought into our schools and involves close contacts we will respond as follows:

  • If one (1) confirmed case of COVID-19 has occurred in a classroom, all others in the class are required to mask for FOURTEEN (14) days following the last unmasked exposure.
  • If two (2) or more classrooms in a school are closed due to COVID-19 transmission within a 14 day period, ALL students and staff in the school will be required to wear a mask at all times in the school building for TWO (2) incubation periods (TWENTY-EIGHT (28) days) following the second class closure.

These mitigation strategies are in direct response to the cases brought into our schools. These strategies are aimed at keeping our classrooms open and stopping any spread of COVID-19 that was brought into the room. During the required masking period, should there be additional virus transmission in that classroom, we will consult with Douglas County Health and determine if the room needs to be closed.

I understand that some of you will think this is not going far enough while others will think it is going too far. We have 533 classroom sections in our elementary schools. Currently, we have closed four classrooms. This means that we have 529 open classrooms. In addition, we have cases of COVID-19 exposure in some elementary classrooms. Approximately 500 classrooms are unaffected. Just like last year we can’t stop COVID-19 from being brought into our schools. There is the potential that your child will be in a classroom where somebody brings COVID-19 in from the outside. If that happens, we will require temporary masking in that room for fourteen days in an effort to prevent spread and keep the classroom open.

Beginning this coming Monday any elementary classroom that has a positive case will be required to mask for 14 days. This includes all children and any unvaccinated staff members. This requirement will include any elementary classroom that had one positive case on or after August 23rd. This is to make sure we can keep the room open to the best of our ability. Your child’s principal will communicate with you regarding the specifics around this required temporary masking. We will not require masking during physical education exercise or outdoor recess. We will be intentional about mask breaks.

Again, if there are no positive exposures in your child’s classroom, there is no requirement to mask at this time, even though students are strongly encouraged to do so.

Secondary

At the secondary level we continue to watch for any possible spread of the virus in our classrooms so that we can mitigate the situation. We are informing you if your child is a close contact of a positive case. If we experience a cluster of cases in a classroom and your child is a close contact of that cluster, they may be required to quarantine. Masking is encouraged for all, and we strongly recommend that if your child is unvaccinated they mask to avoid potential quarantine for exposure. If there is a need to adjust our protocols in the future we will do so.

COVID-19 remains fluid, and we will respond to positive cases to make sure we can keep our classrooms open. I am asking for your help and support as we work our way through this extremely difficult situation. Again, if your child is sick, do not send them to school. If your child is awaiting results of a COVID-19 test, do not send them to school. If you have not already done so, I ask that you consult with your pediatrician regarding vaccines. We anticipate vaccines becoming an option for children younger than twelve in the near future. As we have stated before, masks are strongly encouraged.

Regards,



Dr. Jim SutfinSuperintendent

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