Floyd County Schools Issues “Strongly Recommended” Mask Guidance

Floyd County Schools Issues “Strongly Recommended” Mask Guidance

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A note from Clark County Schools Superintendent Brad Snyder released the following guidance this afternoon, noting that the district is making decisions based on Indiana’s color-coding system for COVID-19 cases.

Floyd County is currently color-coded yellow for new Covid-19 cases, meaning they have 10 to 99 new cases per week, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

Indiana health officials update the data each Wednesday. 

On Wednesday, Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Harris issued an order requiring masks for all students K-6th grade in public, private, and charter schools in the county.

His order was rescinded on Thursday pending the outcome of a vote by Floyd County commissioners citing the recent passage of Indiana Senate bill 5. That meeting has since been canceled and the right to issue mandates for mask-wearing has been batted back to the school district. 

Snyder’s letter reads: 

Dear Parents & Staff,

This year our overarching goal is to keep as many students as possible engaged in uninterrupted and direct instruction with their teachers.  We want in-person, every day.  

Everyone likely knows the situation.  Covid transmission and positive cases have been low this summer.  However, in its place, the Delta variant has since significantly increased caseloads across the country and our community.  All of this has happened within a very short time frame.   Additionally, 2 weeks ago, the CDC gave new guidance to schools, which significantly departed from previous guidance.  As we started school this year, within our Return to School plan, we followed the guidance of the CDC, Indiana Department of Health, and the Floyd County Health Department.  At that time, all agencies were recommending face coverings but were not making them mandatory.  Our approach (for the last year and more) has been to follow these recommendations while monitoring local data. 

This school year (only 4 student days) we have already experienced significant staff and student Covid positives.  Additionally, the number of close contacts resulting from these positive cases is also quickly rising.  Close contacts force students to miss school.  In the fight against Covid-19, we know our actions (schools) will not eliminate the spread, but we do believe some measures can help reduce this spread and keep more kids in school.   Virtual instruction is not our desired outcome and one we hope to avoid by using preventative measures.  

Amid the rising number of Covid cases, one of the better metrics which can guide policy decisions exists within the Indiana color-coding system.  This system uses “real-time” data on a county-by-county basis to depict the local prevalence of the disease.  We will now use this system to provide specific policies for the good of our communal operation.  The FCHD is fully supportive and will supply data and technical assistance as needed.  Please note the CDC also uses a color-coded system, but that system is different and is not in sync with the Indiana system.  To be clear, for the local policy actions below, we will be following the Indiana color system.

The following 4 items will not follow the color coding policy:

  • All unvaccinated adults (employees and visitors) must wear facial coverings while in our facilities.
  • Due to federal regulations for public transportation, face coverings are required on school buses for all students and staff.  This policy will continue until the Feds change it.  This policy is independent of the other color-coded policies. 
  • Indoor athletic and spectator events and sales will be governed by the IHSAA and other guidance factors.  
  • At present, there are no mask requirements for outdoor activities regardless of color code. 

Typically, Indiana data is refreshed weekly, usually on Wednesdays.  Thus, when a change in color dictates a change in mitigation protocol, we will issue an informative “all-call”.  Additionally, the policy below will be posted on our website for future reference.

With this data at hand, the scale below is in effect for all (P-12) school operations regarding face coverings. 

Please note, at present (8/8/21) Floyd County is coded – yellow.  

 

New Albany Floyd County Color Code Covid Policy 

Blue: Staff and students who are not fully vaccinated are recommended to wear a face-covering; however, it will be optional during the school day. 

Yellow: Staff and students who are not fully vaccinated are strongly recommended/encouraged to wear a face-covering; however, it will be optional during the school day. 

Orange: Face coverings will be required for all staff and students on school buses and indoors unless a medical situation dictates otherwise. 

Red: Face coverings are required for all staff and students on school buses and indoors unless a medical situation warrants otherwise.  Visitors will not be permitted beyond the main office area.

With this process as a guide, we will begin requiring face coverings for staff and students on the day following movement into the orange category.  At present, we are yellow.

We believe these steps will assist in reducing the spread AND reduce the number of students missing school due to quarantine.  State guidelines for contact tracing provide that if all students are masked during the school day, three feet of social distance can be used instead of six feet to initiate contact tracing if a positive case is identified.  This 3’ metric is a tremendous asset to a community for keeping their kids in school, but to qualify, it requires the implementation of universal masking.

As previously stated in our Return to School plan, we will continue to monitor the data and adjust our plan accordingly as we move forward this year.  We want in-person instruction to be available for every student every day.  This is an ambitious goal that all of us want to see become a reality during our 2nd year of navigating this pandemic.  We will make necessary modifications as things evolve.

Sincerely, 

Brad Snyder

Superintendent