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. 

“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. 

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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