Message From Dr. Thurman Regarding Updated Face Covering Policy
September 16, 2021
In my last message to parents on August 12th, I asked for your patience and understanding as we implemented a 30 day face covering policy to ensure a successful start to the year with an emphasis on keeping our students in school. For the most part, parents were cooperative and our students did a great job.
The initial 30 day face covering policy ended on Tuesday, September 14th. Our Board recently met to decide whether to continue with the existing policy, allow the policy to expire with no face covering policy, or modify the existing policy.
As you are aware, the decision was made to modify our current policy.
Based on Arkansas Department of Health reporting, we still have a high transmission rate in this area. However, the encouraging aspect of the data is that not only are the rates decreasing, we have seen a decrease in our own district's daily positivity rate over the last week. In fact, the overall state-wide positivity rate continues to improve.
I want to specifically address our modified policy that went into effect on Wednesday.
It was the decision of our Board to begin a transition starting with our students that can be vaccinated.
We highly recommend our secondary students continue to wear face coverings. Keep in mind that if your child is identified as a probable close contact with someone who has tested positive, they must be directed to quarantine at home.
It is imperative that every student, as much as possible, avoid being identified as a probable close contact (PCC). I’ve been asked recently about the process for identifying PCC’s during lunch at the secondary level. Honestly, it’s a challenge since it is not reasonable to assign students to eat at the same location and with the same people each day. This is an example of how we need students to help us keep them in school by avoiding being in situations in which they can be identified as a PCC.
Students that are two weeks post second vaccination will not need to quarantine, nor will students who have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 90 days. Also, if the student who has tested positive and the close contact were both wearing a face covering, the PCC does not quarantine.
Elementary & Middle Schools
For our elementary and middle school students, our face covering policy will remain in effect until rescinded by a recommendation to the Board from the Superintendent.
Since elementary and middle school students do not have the option to be vaccinated, we believe that a transition period would allow us to better prepare for the policy to be relaxed at these levels.
Most importantly, a transition period allows us to monitor the rate of students testing positive and those being identified to quarantine as PCC’s. Students being directed to quarantine at home is difficult on every parent regardless of the age of the student, but even more so if they are younger.
We ask for your patience as we continue to closely monitor our daily trend data for positive cases and quarantines. This data is updated daily on our website.
When the decision is made to relax the face covering requirement for the elementary and middle school groups, all students identified as PCC’s will need to be quarantined at home. One exception to this would be students who have tested positive within the last 90 days.
Quarantines, Vaccines, Close Contacts
Finally, I need to address quarantines, vaccines, and close contacts once more. I want to make it clear that these are not rules or guidelines established by the Cabot School District.
I can assure you, that if we are provided with any written guidance that the COVID protocols set by ADH or ADE are optional and that the licensure of our nurses and accreditation of our district would NOT be in jeopardy, we will adjust accordingly.
We must continue to be vigilant for our daily positivity rate to remain low. We need students who are symptomatic to stay home. Unfortunately, we have instances in which students that have tested positive are being sent to school by parents. This is not acceptable.
The fewer positive cases, the fewer PCC quarantines will be required. The fewer positive cases, the fewer quarantines, the sooner a recommendation will be made to relax the face covering policy district-wide. This has to be a team effort and not left solely to the school to focus on mitigating risk during the school day.