School board approves changes to mask policy

Ava Musgraves
Print Editor

DeMargel _Masks
Senior Amelia Dorsey wears a homemade mask to her volleyball game. She has been making masks since the beginning of the pandemic, and she has used them as a way to express her creative side. “Another reason I made masks was because I don’t have a job, so making masks for people was a way to make money,” Dorsey said. Photo by Maren DeMargel

At its Feb. 24, meeting, the Webster Groves School District passed a new mask policy, moving from masks required to masks recommended for K-12 starting March 7.

Students and staff will be given the choice to remain masked or begin attending school unmasked regardless of vaccination status.

The decision made by the district follows many other schools in the area including Kirkwood and Lindbergh School Districts. St. Louis County is also following the new mask recommended policy this upcoming week. All parties have taken the data from the St. Louis County Department of Health to make their decision.

“March 7 is recommended as the day to transition so that people can prepare to do so. Given we’ve been in a mask-required environment for almost two years, we felt it respectful to give students, staff and families some time to transition – mentally more than anything. Some may also use the time to get vaccinated or boosted,” superintendent John Simpson said via email.

The quarantine policy in a mask recommended environment also has some changes. For unvaccinated students in K-12, a modified quarantine will no longer be allowed. Those students will be required to quarantine for the full 14 days if in close contact.

Students at the Walter Ambrose Family Center will still be required to wear masks given that most preschool children are not eligible for vaccination. Staff will also be required to continue to wear masks when around students at the WAFC.

Currently, the data for covid cases is favorable for this decision meaning that under 1.5% of the populations (students and teachers) of the various schools is positive for COVID-19. If the population of positive cases raises above 1.5% at any time the entirety of the school’s population will be required to wear masks for 14 days.

“Each public health expert or official with whom we spoke stated that it’s more important to determine and use data for moving back to a mask-required environment than for moving to a mask-recommended environment. They approved our use of the 1.5% threshold for such a transition,” said Simpson via email.

The daily data for cases can be viewed on the Webster Groves School District website.

Ava Musgraves – Print Editor

This will be Ava Musgraves’ first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.

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