Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Masks now optional on ABSS school buses, as well

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The Alamance-Burlington school system has announced that school buses will be mask-optional, meaning students and employees will no longer be required to wear face coverings on school buses but may continue to do so if they prefer.

The change follows last week’s vote by the school board to make all ABSS facilities mask-optional, effective immediately.

“We updated the [policy] yesterday to reflect a change in the [federal] guidance about mask-optional status for our buses,” ABSS public information Jenny Faulkner told The Alamance News Monday morning.  “We notified families and staff of the updated changes that took effect over the weekend.”

ABSS will continue to require face masks to be worn for students and staff who return to school after testing positive for Covid-19.  Face coverings are required for:

  • 5 days for any asymptomatic student or staff member who returns to school after testing positive for Covid-19;
  • 10 days for any student or staff member who returns to school after testing positive and “there is improvement in non-fever related symptoms.”
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ABSS students who attend classes at Elon University or Alamance Community College will be required to adhere to any mask requirements in place on those campuses.

ACC president Dr. Algie Gatewood announced Friday that the community college would be mask-optional, effective immediately, in most settings, though employees and students in clinical settings may be required to continue to wear face coverings.

“Please note that there are certain situations where masking will not be optional,” Gatewood said Friday.   “If an employee or a student has a documented medical accommodation, masks may not be optional in the classroom. Employees and students in clinical settings must follow the clinical site’s rules involving mask protocols.”  The college’s president also urged others to respect employees and students who continue to wear masks, as well as those who do not.

ABSS is recommending that students and staff stay home if they experience Covid-19-like symptoms, including: a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher or chills; cough; shortness of breath/difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; and/or diarrhea.

North Carolina’s Department of Health & Human Services announced two weeks ago that it no longer recommends contact tracing in K-12 public schools (i.e., notifying individuals if they are within six feet of someone who tests positive for Covid-19, for 15 minutes or longer).

ABSS announced in the revised guidance that was issued Sunday that staff and students will be notified if there is a “cluster” (or five or more cases sharing a common link) at a school.  Individuals involved also will be notified if there’s a need to reinstate a mask requirement at a specific ABSS school.

The latest guidance for ABSS indicates that students and employees will be required to stay home for a minimum of five days if they test positive for Covid-19, depending upon the severity of any symptoms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced Friday that it will no longer require masks to be worn on school buses or vans operated by K-12 public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs.

However, the CDC said it will continue to require all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks on other forms of public transit, such as: airplanes, ferries, trains, buses, taxis, and ride-shares (such as Uber and Lyft).

The latest mask-optional guidance for ABSS can be found here: https://www.abss.k12.nc.us/domain/8922

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