Press release from Buncombe County Schools:
We have an important safety update for you today. The Board of Education (BOE) held a special-called meeting this morning (Aug. 13) to discuss enhancements to the face covering requirements to begin the school year. The board voted to make face coverings universally mandatory indoors, regardless of COVID-19 vaccine status. We will still consider exemptions to this based on medical or behavioral challenges that would be impacted by a face covering.
This updated policy will not impact the current face covering requirements for indoor athletics. Athletes engaging in strenuous activity during practice or competition may temporarily remove their mask at that time.
Additionally, the board voted to adopt key metrics that will guide future decisions regarding face covering requirements. Those metrics are below:
BOE decisions to operate schools during the 2021-2022 school year will be reviewed, at a minimum, during each monthly board session in accordance with local COVID-19 patterns and metrics.
As a benchmark only and subject to consideration of all relevant factors, the BOE would consider a change in face covering protocol in consultation with BCDHHS if the following local metrics were realized:
(Maintain or Tighten Requirements) Percent positivity rate equals or exceeds the state average AND/OR coded as either orange or red on the CDC Level of Community Transmissions Map AND/OR the number of student and staff positive cases and quarantines significantly increase over the 14 successive day time period.
(Reduce or Amend Requirements) Percent positivity rate remains below the state average AND coded as yellow or blue on the CDC Level of Community Transmissions Map AND/OR the number of students and staff positive cases and quarantines lessen over the 14 successive day time period.
The Board of Education appreciates the feedback received from staff, parents, and community members as they discussed today’s agenda items. We all know how important it is for our students to return to in-person learning, five days a week. A universal mask policy will protect the health of our school community, and should also greatly reduce the need to quarantine students named a close contact to a COVID-19 positive case (Per local health leaders, non-symptomatic students wearing a mask consistently and correctly do not have to automatically quarantine if they are named a close contact).
We are striving to protect the valuable instructional time that our students will receive this year. We are focused on helping our students thrive and excel both academically and socially-emotionally. We look forward to a new school year and working in partnership with our families and community members to achieve this goal.