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Mask Update- Masks Required through February 4th

Posted on: January 12, 2022

TALAWANDA SCHOOL DISTRICT

131 W. Chestnut Street, Oxford, Ohio  45056  ❘  www.talawanda.org


Talawanda School District EMPOWERS Every Learner Every Day!



January 12, 2022

 

Mask Mandate In Place Until February 4, 2022

 

Dear Talawanda Students, Parents, and Families,

 

First, I want to apologize for the typo found in yesterday’s letter.  I referred to the KN95 and N95 masks as “K95” masks.  In my rush to complete and send a letter to everyone, I was not as precise in my language about the N95 and KN95 masks as I would like to have been.

 

This letter will provide some additional information regarding COVID-19, masks, and keeping our buildings open to in-person learning.  It is critical that we all work together.

 

Please remember to keep your child home if someone is positive in your home or has COVID-19 symptoms, or if your child is ill or tested positive, or if you have any indication the child may have COVID-19.  Please call the administration and nurse who will provide you with instructions.  Let’s keep COVID-19 out of our buildings so we can achieve our goal of staying in-person learning.

 

We are waiting to hear new guidance about masks.  As announced on the news and through research, cloth masks are not very effective against Omicron.  According to the current available data, if everyone is wearing a cloth mask, the Omicron virus will start spreading to others after 30 minutes (even if cloth masks are worn properly); if everyone is wearing surgical masks (3 ply), the Omicron virus will start spreading to others after 1 hour.  The only mask that prevents Omicron spread is the KN95 or N95.  If everyone is wearing a KN95 or N95 mask, the Omicron virus will start to spread to others after 25 hours.  However, the wearing of cloth, surgical, KN95 or N95 masks does help mitigate the spread of some other viruses such as colds and influenza (flu).

 

This mask information has been known for a couple of weeks.  My hope is that the CDC will update the mask guidance soon.  I still strongly encourage all to become vaccinated and wear masks.  I also strongly recommend that individuals upgrade their masks to KN95 or N95.  I realize that these masks are expensive and are not easily available, so are not a practical option for many families, but the experts are indicating that they will protect individuals from the Omicron virus.

 

The Omicron virus appears to be affecting those individuals who are not vaccinated on a more serious level.  Hospitalizations in our area and in our state are increasing.  Approximately 90% of the hospitalizations are of individuals who are not vaccinated.  I understand and respect that individuals have the right to make their own choice regarding vaccinations. I highly recommend people to get vaccinated, along with wearing KN95 or N95 masks if possible, rethinking large gatherings, and mitigating the spread of this virus through actions such as NOT sending students to school when they are ill or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive is important.

 

Our current COVID19 spread in our community is similar to what is happening in our nation and in the world.  The good news is the Omicron surge in other countries seems to be dissipating after 4 weeks.  My hope is that our area will also see a reduction of the virus within the next 2 weeks.  

 

Our staff is tired and overwhelmed, just like you.  No one wants to wear a mask.  No one wants to stay home.  No one wants anyone to get sick or worse.  We are short staffed.  We have been short staffed for the past 2 years of this pandemic.  Our goal has been to keep our schools open to in-person learning and to keep everyone as safe and healthy as we possibly can.  The time to track students with or without masks as required by CDC/ODH/BCHD is problematic.  It is very difficult to manage these new procedures.  Even though the CDC/ODH/BCHD have not updated the mask protocols, given the amount of time it takes to track students, the current surge, and having to place the middle school students on line for 3 days, I am reinstituting the mask mandate effective Tuesday.

 

While I know (and now you know) cloth and surgical masks are not as effective, I believe we have given a time period where individuals can make their own choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask.  Students continue to come to school ill, living with someone who is COVID-19 positive, are COVID-19 positive themselves, and do not comply with BCHD orders.  While this is a minority of students, it is occurring every day.  I have pleaded and asked for support to try to manage this pandemic.  There isn’t a playbook or a precedent for COVID-19, therefore, I am reinstituting the mask mandate on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 for all schools until Friday, February 4, 2022.  I will evaluate the situation at that time and may either release the mask mandate or extend the mask mandate.  Please upgrade the masks to KN95 or N95 if you can.  We will continue our mitigation, health, separation as much as possible,  and cleaning protocols to help reduce the spread of this virus. Again, we need your help!

 

Let’s keep our schools open to in-person learning.  We need to work together and not against each other…whatever you may think or believe, we all need to work through this pandemic together to get to the other side of it.

 

In Education,

Dr. Edward Theroux

Talawanda Superintendent