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MCCSC Updates COVID Protocols For Fall, Masks Still Required For Students

Masked Students

(Adobe Stock)

MCCSC students will be masked up, back in classrooms for the start of the 2021 school year.

The MCCSC Board of Trustees updated its COVID-19 guidelines for schools this fall during its meeting Tuesday night. They modify the COVID protocols currently in place, and closely follow updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – with slight modifications for vaccinated teachers.

The plans were not presented to the public during the meeting; they were instead posted on the MCCSC website as the meeting was wrapping up.

All guidelines are subject to change, pending “advice and expectations from outside agencies with jurisdiction over MCCSC as well as developing scientific realities provided through updated guidance from the CDC.”

READ MORE: Holcomb: No Statewide Mask Mandates Amid COVID-19 Surge

MASK UPDATES

The CDC changed its guidelines for K-12 schools hours before MCCSC’s meeting Thursday. The agency now recommends all students, staff and visitors wear masks at school regardless of vaccination status.

At MCCSC schools, all students will be required to wear masks. So will unvaccinated staff members and visitors. But fully vaccinated staff members don’t have to wear masks if they show proof of inoculation.

Everyone at school must keep a mask on their person.

Masks must be worn on buses, in accordance with federal guidelines. Students will not have to mask up when they are eating, outside or during recess.

CLASSROOM UPDATES

Classes will resume in classrooms. Last year, many classes were held in gyms or lunchrooms to allow for extra distance.

Targeted instruction will be provided to students who may have fallen behind in certain subjects as a result of the pandemic.  

“Special” classes such as art and music will be back in their designated areas. Those rooms were often also used for other classes to allow for extra distance. School libraries will be open again.

Students will be able to eat in cafeterias when it’s possible to distance and follow CDC guidelines. If space is limited, students may have to eat in their classrooms on a rotating basis.

“Hopefully we can get the Delta variant and these other things a little more under control,” Paul Farmer, Monroe County Education Association president, said. “And then maybe we can revisit these (guidelines) and get some who are vaccinated to take the masks off.”

MCCSC’s metrics committee will continue meeting throughout the 2021 school year, as they did last year, to determine necessary changes to protocols.

EMPLOYEE VACCINE STIPEND

To encourage staff to get vaccinated, the school board approved a $1,000 vaccination stipend for “MCCSC qualified Board-approved employees” who are vaccinated against COVID-19 on or before Sept. 10.

The program will cost $1.4 to 1.6 million and will be paid for with federal funds, according to MCCSC estimates.

Farmer, the teachers’ union president, guessed the COVID vaccination rate among MCCSC’s staff probably mirrored the county's vaccination rate, if not better. Currently, 56 percent of Monroe County residents are vaccinated.

ONLINE SCHOOL

As was the case last year, MCCSC is providing students the opportunity to go to school in person or online.

With changes in CDC guidance and the continued rise of the Delta variant, Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said MCCSC would be reopening registration for any families who would like to have their students learn online during the fall semester.

“They can just simply reach out to anyone at our office and we'll get them to the right place,” Hauswald said.

NEW NORTH PRINCIPAL

The school board approved the hiring of Matthew Stark as new principal of Bloomington High School North. Stark has been a school principal since 2003 and was principal at Brown County High School for the last three years, according to his LinkedIn.

MCCSC’s first day of school is Aug. 4.

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