The Alabama Department of Health (ADPH) released the public school toolkit on August 2 with information regarding contact tracing, facial coverings, and other school operations for next year. As we wished to have had ADPH's information earlier, we've all learned during this pandemic that things change rapidly in our community, state, and nation. As we continue to engage with our state officials we must all be flexible as protocols and procedures will change. We are in dynamic times and our leadership remains dynamic as well.
According to ADPH’s toolkit, if students are wearing facial coverings in the classroom and are distanced by three feet or more, asymptomatic students do not have to isolate from school if they are exposed to Covid-19. If last year taught us anything, we know how important in-person instruction is for our students. In order to keep our students and teachers in the classrooms, facial coverings will be required inside school buildings. Facial coverings inside our schools will significantly reduce the number of students who are required to isolate at home.
We understand that the debate regarding facial coverings is very divisive. Last year, our health leaders mandated facial coverings state-wide to ensure the safety of all of our families, not just in schools but throughout Alabama. Although a similar mandate is not currently in place, the strong recommendation from our state health leaders along with our rising Covid-19 cases in Alabama shows that we all must work together to do our best to keep our faculty, staff, and students in school. By reinstating indoor facial coverings, we are hopeful this will give our schools the best opportunity to have more regular school activities this year and allow for in-person learning to take place in a safe environment.