Mask Mandate & Social Distancing Guidelines
Earlier this month, Gov. Burgum provided very clear guidance to schools with regards to masks and social distancing in a concerted effort to (a) decrease the number of students identified as close Covid-19 contacts, and (b) reduce the placement of students in quarantine. This guidance clearly states: “When a positive case and a close contact have both been wearing a face covering consistently and appropriately for the entire time, the close contact will not need to self-quarantine at home”. The definition and guidance of being identified as a close contact (within six feet for more than 15 minutes) has not changed.
As a result of Gov. Burgum’s school guidance, our school board has adopted a mask policy that requires students, staff & visitors to wear masks within our school at ALL TIMES, with the exception of the following:
- When students are eating breakfast, lunch, or are having snack breaks;
- During elementary recess periods;
- When participating in physical activities (e.g. PE and Sports);
- When organized mask breaks are occurring; and
- Staff may remove masks if the staff member is alone in his/her own separate room or office, if applicable.
- If a classroom can socially distance (6’) students and staff may remove their masks if they remain seated or if teachers are in front of the class and remain 6’ away. Once a student or teacher becomes mobile in the classroom, a mask must be worn.
To be clear, all individuals will be required to wear a face covering in the hallways before and after school, in between classes, and over the lunch hour (with the exception of eating). Appropriate face coverings include surgical masks, cloth face masks, N95 masks & double lined neck gaiters. Face shields, bandanas and any mask with outlet valves are not considered appropriate face coverings.
This policy is expected to greatly reduce the need for quarantine in our school. Going forward, in the event a close contact occurs while all parties are wearing masks, the close contact will not be required to quarantine. However, in the event a close contact occurs while all parties are not wearing masks for any reason (e.g. a close contact occurs while eating lunch), the individual will still be required to quarantine pursuant to ND Dept. of Health guidelines.
Medical exemptions to this mask requirement may be allowed in limited situations. In the event parents or staff believe a medical exemption should apply, appropriate documentation from a health care provider should be submitted to the school. Notes from parents will generally not be accepted.
We understand that this new policy will require students and staff to wear masks more than they were before the new guidelines were put in place. Please know that mask breaks will be provided for students during the school day during times that appropriate social distancing can occur. Building administrators and staff will work together to develop these breaks.
These guidelines will go into effect on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. If you have any further questions regarding this guidance, please let us know.
Thank you for continuing to work together to allow our students to stay healthy and also have the opportunity to learn face-to-face with their peers and teachers in our schools.
Rick Jacobson, Superintendent
Wahpeton Public Schools