Madison County Schools will continue to require masks or face coverings to be worn by all students, staff, and visitors to our buildings. The district released guidance on July 30, 2021, with the full support of our board of education, which stated clearly that our goal is to have students and staff in attendance every instructional day. Our position on masks at that time was in consideration of the case levels in our community at the end of July. We stated at that time that “If we should see a decrease in attendance during a time when community transmission numbers are high then we will begin to phase in additional mitigation strategies that will include mandatory masking.”
At that time, Madison County had not yet reached the “Red” level on the state incident rate map and the statewide incident rate was 23.63. As we consider this decision today, Madison County has been at the “Red” level for the past 40 days and our statewide incident rate is more than 80. More importantly, current positive cases and quarantines among our students have yielded attendance rates that fall well below any of the original metrics that would permit “optional masking.” These factors put us at a level where masks are required in all buildings while students are in attendance, which includes the instructional day as well as any indoor after school activities.
We are doing everything we can to maintain in-person instruction and masks are helping us do that. Current quarantine requirements are less restrictive in situations where universal masking is in place and we anticipate revisions to the quarantine protocol so that masking provides an even-greater benefit by reducing quarantines. Masks will not reduce quarantines in all situations, but we are also preparing to implement a test-to-stay program for students who would otherwise be required to quarantine and masking is a requirement for that program. More information will be made available about the test-to-stay program very soon.
We appreciate your continued support and understanding as we work toward a consistent, safe, in-person school year for our students and staff.