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In schools, the state recommends masks for the unvaccinated and for everyone if school officials cannot monitor vaccination status.

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In schools, the state recommends masks for the unvaccinated and for everyone if school officials cannot monitor vaccination status.
Photo by Mary Altaffer, The Associated Press

The state Department of Public Health and the Education deparment recommend that people who are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus wear masks in schools when classes resume next month.

The health department issued the guidelines Thursday. It and the department of education saying Local school officials should “review updated guidance documents and allow them to inform their decision making.”
It is not known exactly what those officials will do. Some parents have launched a campaign to allow parents to make their own decisions, reports Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the Leader of the Lexington Herald. When the Jefferson County Public Schools said they would require masks for unvaccinated students, a gunman what he loaded threatening the superintendent.
The guidelines say school officials should consider the level of community transmission of the coronavirus, the level of vaccination against it, the ages of children in a school, and “associated social and behavioral factors that can affect the risk of transmission and the feasibility of different strategies. prevention “. Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for coronavirus vaccination.

Additionally, the guidelines say school officials should promote vaccination, offer it in schools, and consider a testing program to detect the virus in unvaccinated students, teachers and staff, to thwart its spread. People can contract and spread the virus without having any symptoms.

The guidelines recommend the use of masks indoors and say that “it is particularly important when physical distancing is not possible or when other high-risk activities” such as singing, yelling and playing musical instruments.

On school buses and other means of public transportation, everyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask unless they qualify for an exemption, the guidelines say.

Universal masking

They also say that everyone should consider wearing masks in schools that have students who cannot be vaccinated, low vaccination rates, or “inability to monitor the vaccination status of students and / or teachers and staff.” . He also said that the use of universal masks should be considered if the community wishes, and in the event of “increasing or high virus transmission in the community or school” or “difficulty in monitoring or enforcing mask policies that are not universal “.

The health department also issued recommendations for physical distancing: at least three feet between students in classrooms where not all are fully vaccinated, and at least six feet “between students and teachers / staff, and between teachers / staff. not vaccinated. “

In addition, “To the greatest extent possible, schools should reduce the number of students in each classroom, rotate desks so they face the same direction, use assigned seats, and remove nonessential furniture. Maximize physical distancing to unvaccinated people who eat indoors. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least three feet, it is especially important to apply various prevention strategies, such as masking indoors. “

The guidelines recommend cohorts or “clusters,” stable groups with fixed members held together during activities, “especially when physical distancing is difficult (eg, young children) or when other layered prevention strategies are discontinued. … A modified The strategy of implementing only the use of universal masks during activities when physical distancing is not feasible (eg class change, cohort mixing) can also be considered “.

Elsewhere, the guidelines recommend improving ventilation and cleaning, teaching and enforcing hand washing or sanitizing, and keeping students, teachers, and staff out of school who become ill, test positive for the virus, or, if They are not fully vaccinated, they have close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 disease. “A close contact is someone who was within two meters of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes while the person was considered contagious,” the guidelines say.

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