CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Chilton County School System has announced they will be requiring masks in schools due to the rise of COVID infections both in the county and statewide.
In a message posted on the school system’s website Thursday, Superintendent Jason Griffin said this year’s plan stated that schools might be subject to a mask mandate if isolation and COVID positive cases reached a level that Griffin felt that having them would be necessary.
“Based on my determination in consultation with school nurses and administrators, the percentage of individuals who are COVID infected or isolated has reached 10% of the total number of individuals on the individual school campuses,” Griffin said.
Griffin said he had hoped to begin the school year by allowing masks to remain optional and that COVID positives and those exposed would be limited. However, that changed with the number of COVID-19 infections rising over the last few days. As of Thursday, there have been 204 positive COVID-19 cases reported within the last seven days in Chilton County, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Specifically, Griffin said that the 10% infection mark had been reached at Chilton County High, Clanton Middle, Jemison Elementary, Jemison Intermediate, Jemison Middle, and Thorsby, adding that he expected others schools to reach that mark as well.
“I did not want to have to require masks and there are lots of opinions and scientific evidence as to their effectiveness, but the CDC and Alabama Department of Public Health recommend the use of masks in all K-12 schools including Pre-K for students and employees to mitigate the virus for ages 2 and older,” Griffin said.
Griffin added that by enforcing masks in the classroom, students in close contact to a positive case would not be required to isolate, pending they are not showing any symptoms of the virus. He concluded by saying he was not sure when masks would go back to being optional again in the schools, but that they would be monitoring COVID-19 numbers and make changes based on that.
“I ask for the community to support us even if you disagree and help us to keep our students in school,” he said. “That you for your patience and I pray that this craziness ends soon!”