reinstate mask mandate for oldham county schools (KY)
Health experts seem to agree that masking indoors is crucial at the moment with this omicron variant surge. Cases in children nearly doubled locally. Hospitalizations are up in children too. Also, our regular ICUs are almost at capacity. The BOE and Superintendent said they would be monitoring the numbers and working with local health experts and reinstate the mask mandate if necessary. Norton, UofL and the Oldham County Health department all strongly advise on masking indoors. They in fact even advise to wear n95 masks.
While vaccines still seem effective against severe illness and hospitalization or death, with omicron they are not effective to stop spread without any other mitigation efforts such as masks and distancing which are both not practiced in Oldham county schools per current policy. This leaves families with vulnerable family members such as immunocompromised people or younger siblings who cannot yet get the vaccine without protection.
With this new variant and the current surge, a voluntary test to stay program and changed exposure guidelines to over 30 min will unlikely to be effective tools if not accompanied by masking. Especially since the effectiveness of rapid test is questioned with omicron.
With rising numbers in covid cases and a substitute teacher shortage this current surge is also concerning for our county because it could mean schools will not be able to stay open if this spreads among staff.
We as families of OC students ask the BOE to listen to the advice of the local health experts and temporarily reinstate the mask mandates until at least this surge is over, especially because we do not have any other options such as VLA or NTI if we need to protect vulnerable family members.