Interim superintendent Dan Good’s resolution to return students back to school full time after spring break was approved by the Board of Education Friday, Feb. 21.
The meeting was led by Good and infectious diseases epidemiologist Abby Norris Turner, who is one of several epidemiologists and pediatricians on the Covid taskforce that worked with Good to determine the safest, best plan for a potential return to school full time.
Good’s resolution was mainly based on the premise that over 88% of staff were expected to be vaccinated during February, and with a few additional precautions, it would be safe to return all students to school full time, he said.
One concern that raised several questions during the meeting was adding a school mandate of wearing two masks to school every day to minimize the spread of the virus from person to person. Turner and Good explained that with the variability of effectiveness from mask to mask, it would be universally safer to simply have all students wearing two masks at a time to reduce the chance of a student wearing an ineffective face covering.
Good added that he expects the double mask mandate to be enforceable and believes students would be willing to follow it.
“Mandating double masking in school will be very similar to our single mask enforcement,” he said. “We have to make kids and families understand why they need to wear them.”
Other nearby schools that are all-in have not mandated double masking, he added. However, Good explained the reasoning behind this as well, comparing the district to school systems that have similar circumstances.
“Some districts who are already all-in, such as CSG and St. Charles, for example, can guarantee six feet at all times, whereas Bexley cannot, and that is why we are double masking,” he explained.
Good’s resolution also included an extra day of spring break on Monday, March 22 so that teachers and staff could have a work day to prepare their classrooms for all-in, he explained. He added that this gives teachers time they may need to reconfigure their room or prepare for the students’ return on Tuesday, March 23.
While many had concerns that traveling over spring break could create a potential spike in Covid cases, Good said that by looking at previous data of coronavirus numbers after breaks, the task force concluded that students will be safe to return all-in.
“We did not experience Covid surges in the district over Thanksgiving and winter break, so we are banking on spring break being the same,” he said.
Good added that he believes that the district’s precautions to protect students will be effective and students will benefit from the switch to all-in learning.
“We believe that the mitigation strategies proposed for all-in instruction will minimize risk,” he said, “and it will be nice to have all the students in the building again.”