Vicksburg Warren School District issues ‘Universal Masking’ mandate
Published 4:59 pm Thursday, August 12, 2021
The Vicksburg Warren School District Board held a special called meeting Thursday.
During the meeting, the Board voted to amend the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service Plan for the 2021-22 school year.
Beginning Friday, all VWSD teachers, staff and students, when not eating or drinking, regardless of vaccination status must wear a mask covering the nose and mouth when indoors or on the school bus.
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“This decision was not made in haste,” VWSD board president Jim Stirgus Jr. said. “It was based on data we have accumulated since the start of school.”
The data which was used was based on the number of students, teachers and staff statewide who had tested positive for COVID-19, the number of students who had to quarantine and the number of outbreaks at schools from Aug. 2 through Aug. 6.
“These new restrictive measures that we are giving to you are more stringent than the Center For Disease Control and the Mississippi Health Department,” Stirgus said, because the aim is to keep students and employees safe and to keep schools open.
The mandate is also being implemented due to the number of local students who are having to quarantine because they are choosing not to wear a mask, board member Bryan Pratt said.
“We are having to quarantine a lot of students who are not voluntarily wearing masks, so a lot of people are being quarantined that are not really most likely going to get sick. But because of the policy, we don’t know where they stand, so the prudent thing to do is quarantine, whereas if they had worn a mask they would not have to quarantine,” Pratt said.
“A lot of kids are just missing class because they are not wearing a mask,” board member Alonzo Stevens said.
For those students eligible for vaccines, the board also advised parents to talk to their health care provider to find out what the safest measure is for protecting their child.
Vaccines will ensure school activities can continue, Stevens said.
“For parents that have children in extracurricular activities, it’s very important to understand there is no makeup on anything you miss because of this. Last year they (Mississippi High School Activities Association) tried to makeup, but this year they are not going to make it up. It will just be a forfeit,” Stevens said. “So it’s very important that when your children are participating it is important to have them as safe as possible because a whole season could go away.”
In addition to the mask mandate for VWSD students and staff, visitors to K-12 school settings must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status with the exception of any medical condition that prevents wearing a mask.
The full updated plan is available online at www.vwsd.org/reopen2021.