Changes to HSSD Mask Protocol, Starting Jan 4

Changes to HSSD Mask Protocol, Starting Jan 4
Posted on 12/17/2021
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The HSSD School Board approved the lifting of the Mask Mandate Resolution starting January 4 during the School Board Meeting on December 14. This means that when our Trojan students and staff members return from Christmas Break on Tuesday, January 4, the wearing of face masks will be entirely optional by all individuals. Please read over important information below to help us all remain as healthy and safe as possible in the new year with these new protocols in place.


>>HSSD Students Should Not be at School if They are Sick
Please keep students home if they are sick, or if anyone in the home is awaiting Covid-19 test results. HSSD teams at each school will be strictly adhering to the HSSD Student Sick Policy requiring that students stay home or be sent home for an array of symptoms including fever, shortness of breath, coughing, vomiting, and others outlined in Policy 4.36, of the Student Handbook.


It is the responsibility of our students and our parents to communicate clearly and take action when students have experienced any symptoms of sickness (especially fever or vomiting) and/or are awaiting Covid-19 test results, and therefore (in either scenario) should not be at school. 


>>HSSD Continues to Strongly Encourage the Wearing of Masks by Unvaccinated Individuals and High-Risk Individuals
Any students or staff members who choose to continue wearing masks for precautionary purposes are absolutely welcome to do so. Families, please talk to your students during Christmas Break about showing kindness and grace to everyone as they choose whether or not a face mask is appropriate for them. We also highly encourage students and staff to wear masks if they are experiencing symptoms of allergies and/or any kind of minor cold or cough (*if students experience a minor cold or cough with a fever or over an extended period, they should not be at school, and should be taken to see a healthcare provider, please). 


Please Note: The HSSD will host another round of voluntary Covid-19 Vaccination Clinics via CHI St. Vincent on Friday, January 14. These will take place again at all four elementary schools (for elementary students, only) and then the HSSD Welcome Center (for individuals of all ages). 


>>Covid-19 Rapid Tests are Available to All Students and Staff at Anytime
HSSD School Nurses and the HSSD District Office have free rapid Covid-19 tests available to all students and staff members to utilize at any time. To arrange to take a rapid Covid-19 test, individuals should email their School Nurse, or the District Point of Contact for Covid-19 at barnesa@hssd.net, or call their School Office to arrange. The BINAX Covid-19 Rapid Tests are fast, convenient, and painless for individuals to use. This is the quickest, easiest option for us to use in understanding whether an individual is positive for Covid-19. Parents must provide consent to school officials before a child is tested at school. 


On Monday, January 3 (before students return to school on Tuesday, January 4), HSSD will have rapid Covid-19 tests available at the District Office at 400 Linwood Avenue from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Families can arrange for students to take a test by calling 501-624-3372.

>>HSSD Will Continue to Implement ADH Contact Tracing Protocols
The HSSD will continue to follow Arkansas Department of Health protocols, which include formal Contact Tracing procedures and (when appropriate) the quarantining of students OR the enforcing of a Test-to-Stay option for students who are identified as Probable Close Contacts. A Probable Close Contact is someone who is three feet or closer for more than 15 minutes (cumulatively) to an individual who tests positive for Covid-19. Students can continue to avoid being quarantined (unless they test positive for Covid-19) by getting fully vaccinated and/or by wearing a mask.

Please Note: If students are identified as Probable Close Contacts (*and they are unvaccinated), please remember that they still must complete a 7-10 day quarantine period OR participate in a Test-to-Stay Option. 


Please Note: It is still imperative that individuals isolate away from those who test positive for Covid-19. If anyone in a home tests positive for Covid-19, students must fully isolate away from them for 7-10 days before returning to school and/or to avoid an extended quarantine period.


>>HSSD Offers the Test-to-Stay Option to All Students in Grades K-12
The Test-to-Stay option is approved through the Arkansas Department of Health. The program allows the HSSD to provide rapid Covid-19 tests to students who are identified as Probable Close Contacts for 7 days from the date of exposure to an individual who tests positive for Covid-19. During the 7 days, students must wear masks at all times, and must take a rapid Covid-19 test each day that they are at school. As long as they wear masks, do not develop Covid-19 symptoms of any kind, and test negative during the 7-day period, they can remain at school and/or participate in extracurricular activities.
Please Note: The Test-to-Stay option only applies to students who are identified as Probable Close Contacts based on exposure at school and/or an after-school event or activity. If students are exposed to a family member and/or an individual that they live with, they still must quarantine for a time period and isolate away from the individual who has tested positive for Covid-19. 


>>HSSD Will Require Masks Again if Positive Covid-19 Cases Increase in the School or Community
If the HSSD identifies and/or is notified of more than 5 positive cases of Covid-19 at any one HSSD school OR office, the HSSD will implement a temporary Mask Mandate for that specific campus or building. If the HSSD is notified via Arkansas Center for Health Improvement data that Garland County Covid-19 cases are on the rise, and increase to a point that the county is elevated out of a "green" status, the HSSD will implement a temporary districtwide Mask Mandate.  Any temporary mandate will be  for a minimum of 14 days.  Parents would be notified of this change by a phone call and email (based off of the contact information provided through e-School), and through district/school social media pages.


The HSSD will continue to provide Covid-19 data regarding positive cases among our students and staff members to our Trojan community at the “Covid-19 Updates” tab, here. The information provided at this tab is updated on a daily basis, and serves to help keep us all as informed as possible regarding Covid-19-related data and updates.
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