Shealy: No mask requirement for Vicksburg Warren School District, vaccines strongly encouraged.

Published 6:16 pm Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees on Thursday announced updated COVID-19 policies for the upcoming school year.

According to Superintendent Chad Shealy, masks will not be required for students or teachers, but vaccines are highly encouraged. For teachers, he said, vaccine status could prevent unnecessary absences.

“If you are vaccinated, there is no quarantine. That is an important thing for our staff,” Shealy said. “In the past, when we had the governor’s declaration of emergency, there was a COVID (Family Medical Leave Act) allowable. That is no longer in place. If we have adults who quarantine, it will come out of their sick days. It will be treated just like the flu. I’m not twisting anyone’s arm either way, but I strongly encourage you to get the vaccine.”

Shealy also praised the VWSD board for its decision to use federal ESSER funds to place a nurse in every school building in the district and said this will help mitigate spread of coronavirus among students and faculty.

In addition to the nurses, he said the board is also investigating the process of having schools designated as test sites, which will allow potentially exposed students to receive a COVID test and return to class immediately upon receiving a negative result.

“The only thing that we’re doing this year is we’re expecting the parent to screen at home; we’re not temping them at the door,” Shealy said. “The benefit this upcoming school year is, y’all put a nurse in every school building. That is awesome.”

In order to help parents make the best decision for their children regarding quarantines and exposure to COVID-19, VWSD is sending out a Google Form that corresponds to a flow chart.

Teachers will still be provided with hand sanitizer, face shields, masks and other forms of PPE, but they will not be required to use them.

Board president James Stirgus, Jr. expressed concern about the Delta variant and its aggressive nature compared to the original COVID-19 virus.

“I’ve been reading and they said that under the Delta variant that the D stands for ‘different’ and ‘detour.’ It is a spike protein. … It is much more stronger than the coronavirus,” he said.

There will be no “asynchronous virtual learning option” for students this year, but Shealy did say students with extenuating circumstances will be able to use a virtual option that was in place before the pandemic began.

“Everybody needs to come to school,” he said.