As students throughout Elmore County headed back to the classroom on Aug. 9, they did so with fewer restrictions in comparison to the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
"When it comes to face masks, we'll basically be starting the school year off the same way we finished it, with masks being optional," said Elmore County Schools Superintendent Richard Dennis.
One aspect that has changed is that the district resumed face-to-face instruction. School-based virtual instruction is now discontinued. Parents who'd like for their child to attend school virtually must apply and be accepted to the EDGE Virtual School.
The blended attendance plan will remain in place, which means that students could complete their school work from home if they get sick or if they have to quarantine after being in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID.
Any sick student/staff is advised to see their healthcare provider to determine if student/staff has COVID-19 or another non-communicable disease. Students/staff should self-quarantine as soon as symptoms appear.
If a student or staff members tests positive for COVID or gets sick with COVID-like symptoms, they will be required to quarantine for 10 days with one day of recovery without fever or fever reducing medications, as well as improvement of respiratory symptoms. The school district will report all positive cases to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The school will also use their existing notification to let parents/guardians know that an exposure has occurred.
If COVID-19 is confirmed, the school nurse/teacher/school representative will advise the class/close contacts to wear a mask for 10 days from exposure (third though 12th grade and all employees) and monitor their health closely. If the employee/student that came in close contact chooses to provide the school nurse with proof of full vaccination, they will not be required to wear a mask. Those in close contact will only be expected to quarantine if they become symptomatic.
Close contact is defined as those students/staff that have been within 6 feet for at least 15 accumulative minutes.
This school year, athletic events will return to 100 percent capacity, but each sport is required to continue current cleaning protocols that include disinfecting equipment after each use.
"I encourage all students and employees who are eligible to take the COVID vaccine if possible," Dennis said in a message to community on July 30. "There is a limited supply of Pfizer vaccines which the Elmore County Health Department will offer on Fridays with no appointment necessary. Vaccination forms are available on the Elmore County website."