Centralia Fireside Guard

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Centralia R-VI moving to mandatory mask use

Posted on Friday, November 20, 2020 at 8:30 am

A quartet of citizens joined the Centralia school board the evening of November 19 for a special meeting.

They heard the board members attending revise the district’s reentry plan to require all students and staff to wear masks all days

“Tonight, we are here to talk about the face covering,” R-VI Superintendent Steven Chancellor said.

“I’d day the middle school has done the best so far,” he said, referring to students’ following the requirements of when they were expected to wear face coverings at school to protect them from, and hinder the spread of the, Corona virus. “CIS and CES are doing well, but CBMS is really strong.”

R-VI School Board President Brian Bostick, MD, at the board’s Nov. 19 meeting.

He said the High school participation started out really strong, but when the students “realized that a facemask made no difference in a close-contact quarantine situation.”

During the last three weeks, Chancellor said, there has been an uptick in calls expressing concern that a lack of mask-use fidelity could be contributing to increased sickness among the local senior citizen population and overall spread of COVID-19.

Ninety-five minutes later, the five board-members present, including one attending virtually, unanimously voted to amend district policy and try a five week trial of mandatory mask wearing in all buildings of the Centralia School District.

The policy will apply to all staff, as well as students.

The trial will be from Monday, Nov. 30 and end, Tuesday, January 12.

A letter sent to district parents, reads in part: “Beginning Monday, November 30, all staff and students PK-12 will be required to wear masks will at school for a trail period ending January 12. During the five school weeks of this trial we will monitor closely our daily numbers to determine if any impact occurs. The results will be reviewed at the January 11 Board of education meeting to determine if this trial should be closed or continued.”

Chancellor said the change did not apply to anything happening off campus or in athletics competition.

He shared some data regarding the Corona virus and the R-VI population.

  • Number of students positive 28, 19 at the high school
  • Number of staff that have been infected – 12
  • Number of students having undergone close contact quarantine – 275
  • Students who have had multiple quarantines for close contact – 16.
  • Those tested positive while supposed to be on quarantine, three

“There is no evidence to suggest student illness is a driver for us going to virtual classes,” Chancellor said.

“It’s the teenagers and above,” Bostick said, “that is where the most transmission is happening… Social distancing works, but we are going to encourage mask use.”

Chancellor said the reason elementary and intermediate students get quarantined is via interaction with their parents. Middle and high-school students, he said, get quarantined due to contact with each other.

“We lost a whole department,” Chancellor said to a question from board member Harvey Million regarding staff contracting the virus. He said one week they lost all the special education teachers at CIS.

Million said the important thing was to do what they could to continue in-seat education, “the academy of pediatrics study said that is the best for the students.” He said he was in favor of more masking, “It keeps the students in seats and teachers in front of them.”

For the complete article, see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.