SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Sylacauga City Schools has extended its facial covering policy until Oct. 8.
The extension was passed in a called board meeting Wednesday morning.
In a press release the school system stated, “In a measure to continue protecting the safety and health of the Sylacauga City Schools family, the school board voted unanimously today to extend the face covering requirement for all students and personnel through Oct. 8. Students are not required to wear face coverings while eating breakfast and lunch, participating in physical activity, or being outdoors. Furthermore, students who forget or misplace a face covering are not punished; each building has spare masks.”
“The actions we have taken these last three weeks are evidence that our protocols are working. The number of positive cases in our school family have decreased in the last week, which is in stark contrast to the number of COVID cases in our community,” Superintendent Dr. Michele Eller remarked. “Coosa Valley Medical Center is full. On Monday there were no more hospital beds available. And yet, the positive cases in our schools have declined during the same time period thanks to the safety protocols we are following, which includes wearing face coverings.”
“This is the responsible course of action,” Eller went on to say. “We are charged with the responsibility of educating our students and keeping them safe. Protecting them against a contagious virus is just as important as protecting them in emergency situations. Wearing masks, frequent hand washing, and diligent sanitization of our buildings are ways we can provide this protection.”
Eller reported that as of the time of the called board meeting, Sylacauga City Schools had 8 new cases for a total of 23 positive cases, down significantly from 44 the week before. The face coverings have also reduced the number of students out of school due to exposure. Only close-contact students who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms are being advised to quarantine. This guidance is different from how schools operated last year with all close contacts required to quarantine.
“We know this situation changes daily,” she said, “and we are closely monitoring our schools. I made a commitment to our parents and students to keep our school buildings open and safe. This simple measure of wearing face coverings adds another layer of protection to help make that happen.”
High school athletics is in full swing and the Aggies hosted a nearly packed stadium at Friday night’s winning game against Tallassee. Volleyball also is drawing good crowds and basketball season is right around the corner, Eller pointed out.
“High school sports and school spirit go hand in hand with the education experience. We already have had one football game canceled due to COVID. We do not want a repeat of last year with canceled games or have to limit crowd sizes at athletic events. We want our students and their families to enjoy the full Aggie experience. Continuing to wear face coverings while indoors will protect our students by day, so we can celebrate Aggie Pride at these various events. We are going to do everything within our ability, including wearing face coverings, to limit disruptions and ensure a safe and healthy learning environment.”