Bay-Waveland School District enforcing mask mandate, offering vaccination incentive for employees
As of Monday, there have been seven employees and 21 students who have tested positive for COVID-19, said the superintendent.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Students in the Bay-Waveland district returned to school last week and, at the time, masks were optional. However, given the increase in COVID cases, the school district has changed its course. A mask mandate will be in effect for all students, employees, and visitors throughout the district beginning on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
The decision was finalized at a school board meeting Monday evening, where Superintendent Dr. Sandra Reed also updated school board members on the status of the virus throughout the district.
“To date, we have had a total of seven staff members that are positive and 21 students,” said Reed. “We have made a few adjustments to the re-opening plan, as you are aware.”
The mask mandate comes as district officials work to better trace the number of positive cases and those who have been in contact with them.
“It is because we spent a large part of the day today dealing with contact tracing of positive cases, and we found we were spending an inordinate amount of time doing that,” explained Reed.
The mask mandate will make contact tracing much easier.
“There is another set of standards that regulate contact tracing when you are wearing a mask, and we just decided that it was for the benefit and the betterment of our students to mandate masks,” said Reed.
The Center for Disease Control defines close contact as being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. However, there is an exception for K-12 classrooms if both the infected student and the exposed students correctly and consistently wear well-fitting masks the entire time.
The mask mandate is not the only COVID related policy decision that was discussed on Monday night in the Bay. The school board voted to approve a vaccination incentive policy for all employees in the district at the school board meeting. It states that all district employees who show proof that they are fully vaccinated by Nov. 30 will receive $1,000.
“We are doing that for a myriad of reasons. One reason is we feel like it is very helpful if our staff is vaccinated. The other reason is because, frankly, there is a degree of risk associated with the vaccination,” said Reed. “I think we would all agree with that and it just serves as a simple thank you to our staff that are willing to take that small amount of risk for the safety of our students.”
Reed says the funding will come out of the money allotted from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, more commonly known as the ESSER fund. Employees who are fully vaccinated by Nov. 30 will receive their money on Dec. 17.
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