Since our return to school in August under the burden of COVID, quarantines have had a dramatic negative impact on the education of many of our students. While some learning is possible remotely or virtually, these methods are not strong substitutes to actually being on-site at school. Kids need to be in school. Since August, we’ve had nearly 300 people quarantined or infected. For a district of just over 700, this is a significant number. These quarantined students are missing two weeks of school and almost all end up not getting sick anyway.
Recently, Governor Parson offered new guidelines for quarantines only in schools that have a policy in place requiring the use of masks (Links below). Per these guidelines, if an infected student and the close contacts were both wearing masks, the close contacts would still be able to attend school. If either party was not wearing a mask, the close contacts would have to quarantine as they do now. This means nearly half of those 300 quarantined students could have remained in school under these new guidelines. Under the previous guidelines, and without a mask policy, these close contacts could not attend school even if they were wearing masks. The quarantine exemption only applies to attendance at school during the normal school day. Close contacts would still be required to quarantine when away from school and from extracurricular activities.
In order to keep many of the quarantined students in school, the Iberia R-V Board of Education approved a new policy requiring the use of masks in situations where physical/social distancing was not possible or likely, per the new guidelines. This policy will go into effect on Monday, November 30, 2020. We expect a few days of adjustment to this change as we teach the kids and get them used to the new procedures.
What does this change mean? In short, when students or staff cannot or will not meet the 6-foot social distancing requirement, they will be expected to wear a mask. In situations where they can keep this separation, masks will not be needed. So, all students and staff will need to wear a mask at some point during the day. But all will also have times when a mask is not needed. We encourage everyone to bring their own mask, but will have some available if needed. Gaiters and bandanas will also work, but need to be at least 2-ply. Further guidance about the new policy is available in the “Iberia R-V Mask Policy” (Link below).
We know this is a big change for our kids. We also know our kids need to be in school and want to be in school. Thank you for your support in working to protect the health and education of our students.
Iberia R-V Board of Education and Lyndel R. Whittle, Superintendent