Effective Thursday, all Carson City School District students, parents, vendors, volunteers, visitors and guests, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear face coverings when indoors and while on school buses.
The new requirement comes in response to increased student exclusions from close contacts of some infected students in schools throughout the district.
Per the CDC criteria for close contacts, only those who were within 3 to 6 feet of the infected student would be considered close contacts, if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) wore well-fitting masks. If any infected student was not wearing a mask, then an entire class might need to be excluded from school and quarantined for a 10-day period. Vaccinated students do not need to be excluded or quarantined nor do students wearing masks, sitting more than 3 to 6 feet of the infected student(s).
Since the start of the school year, more than 500 students in the Carson City School District have been excluded from school for up to 10 days due to COVID-19 guidelines for close contact tracing.
“One of our greatest desires is to keep schools open where students can attend in-person,” said Richard Stokes, superintendent for the Carson City School District. “If students wear masks, it greatly decreases the number of students excluded from in-person learning because of ‘close contact’ and quarantine requirements.”
The mask requirement will be set in place throughout the month of September. If the process results in fewer students excluded from school through close contact tracing, it is anticipated the facemask requirement may be lifted by Oct. 1. The Carson City School Board of Trustees previously approved in a unanimous vote of 7-0, the district’s reopening plan, adopted July 13 this year, which recommended but did not require students to wear masks indoors.
Per the district’s Reopening Plan, the temporary use of facemasks could be employed any time during the school year as part of a multi-layered effort to end a localized outbreak of COVID-19 or one of its variants.
“I am not advocating for this change based on the effectiveness of wearing a face mask to prevent illness,” Stokes continued. “The decision instead is intended to minimize the loss of learning and operational inefficiencies that are occurring when large numbers of students are excluded from school. In this case, the exclusions are coming from close contacts due to exposure to COVID-19.”
The district also re-emphasized the critical role parents play in helping schools remain open for in-person learning. The district continues to plead that parents complete a Daily Self-Screening each morning before school and keep any child home if they experience any cold or flu symptoms.