Mountain Home Public Schools held a back-to-school Facebook Live address and fielded questions from the public Thursday evening, with preventing outbreaks of COVID-19 as the main topic.
The school will continue most of its COVID prevention protocols from the spring, with the exception of mandatory mask usage. Schools and other governmental operations are now banned from issuing mask mandates due to Act 1002, which was passed in late April and became law on July 1.
Dr. Brian Malte, a pulmonologist at Baxter Regional Medical Center and the parent of students in the Mountain Home District, appeared at the event as a special guest. At the front line of the fight against COVID at BRMC, Malte talks about the difference in this surge, as opposed to when the illness took hold last November.
Malte also says a big change is the age of those being stricken, along with the patient’s vaccination status.
While mask mandates are banned, parents can choose to have their children wear masks in school. Malte says he knows masking has been a contentious issue, but he encourages parents to consider having their children wear them. Also, if a parent chooses to not have their children wear masks, they should be extra attentive to any potential COVID symptoms a child might display.
Malte also addresses the fallacy that wearing masks is dangerous to children.
Superintendent Dr. Jake Long conveyed to the viewers there have been no changes from the Arkansas Department of Health or Department of Education to COVID-19 quarantine protocols for the upcoming school year.
Protocols for fully vaccinated individuals will continue to differ from protocols for those who are not fully vaccinated.
The protocols are:
– If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they may return from quarantine to school or school activities on the 11th day after symptoms began, or if they are asymptomatic, they may return on the 11th day after the positive test result.
– Those who are not fully vaccinated and have been identified as probable close contacts may return to school on the 15th day after exposure, as long as they have no symptoms.
– Those who are fully vaccinated and have been identified as probable close contacts will be allowed to remain in school but are required to self-monitor for symptoms. If symptoms begin, they will need to be tested.
– Those who have had a documented case of COVID-19 within the past 90 days will not be required to quarantine if identified as a probable close contact of a person with the virus. If symptoms begin, they will need to be tested.
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