School employees say as mask requirements end, they would like option to reinstate if COVID cases spike

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Madison County Schools announced this week that if cases in the district stay down their mask requirement will end. That new policy is scheduled to go into effect Monday. It’s a move many districts are making.

“I would recommend that school systems have a data-driven approach,” said Dr. David Kimberlin, a pediatrician specializing in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Kimberlin explained one way districts could make the decision to end mask requirements is to use county data from the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard. The dashboard breaks down transmission rates by county. If a county is in a low to moderate range…

“The recommendations are that for fully vaccinated people you don’t need to mask inside, and I think that could be a surrogate for schools,” Dr. Kimberlin said. “I would still prefer universal masking in schools, personally.”

In Madison County, the positivity rate is 6.2%.

Madison County Schools announced they will end their mask requirements Monday, November 1 as long as COVID cases system-wide are below .5% positivity. Masks will still be required at individual schools with a 2.5% positivity rate.

Beverly Sims represents employees at Madison City and County schools for the Alabama Education Association.

“The majority of them are comfortable now with dropping the masks since the numbers are low,” said Sims.

If a school’s positivity rate exceeds 5%, masks will be required something Sims says employees would like to see.

“They also want to know that if those numbers start going up, that the superintendents are going to go back to the masks,” she stated.

Health officials have warned about the potential for cases to spike again throughout the holiday season.
Masks are still required at Huntsville and Madison City Schools.

A spokesperson for Madison City Schools says the district could potentially take up the topic of masking at its November 4th meeting when Superintendent Ed Nichols presents what he calls a ‘matrix’ to the school board. Details of what will be discussed in the matrix will be released Friday.

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