Dear Seward Middle School families and staff,
Thank you for your effort the past two weeks to keep as many people attending school in person. Our school will join several other KPBSD schools, and continue universal masking for an additional two weeks through Friday, September 24, 2021. Factors that impact this decision include positive COVID-19 cases in schools; the number of identified close contacts who need to quarantine; continued high community spread; an absenteeism rate of over 25% at the three Seward schools; a staffing shortage and lack of substitute teachers.
This action and your help will continue to help slow in-school exposure to COVID-19, and keep students in school without a need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who is positive for COVID-19*.
KPBSD requires universal masking for all students and staff while indoors at school, and this action will be reevaluated on Friday, September 24, 2021. Face coverings continue to be required for everyone who rides a bus.
This was not a decision that was made lightly. All three principals met with both the superintendent and the assistant superintendent to review data from the three Seward schools, and the Seward community. The decision to extend universal masking came down to the high number of student and staff absences that made worse our staffing and sub shortage which threatened our ability to keep school buildings open and operating. This process will be repeated in two weeks, looking at similar data. We continue to want to do what it takes to keep our schools open and our students attending in person, and universal masking is one of the tools that can help that to happen. I personally want to thank everyone who reached out through email, phone calls, during the site council meeting, face to face and through various other means to give me your input. We took it all into consideration when we made this decision. Once again, we will look at the data again the week ending on Friday September 24th and see where we are as schools and as a community.
PS: You can help protect your family and community: if you or someone you know has any symptoms of illness, stay home, and get a free COVID-19 test. Everyone 12 and older can receive a free vaccination to help prevent serious illness or death.
For more information about the KPBSD mitigation plan, close contact action steps, and symptom free school protocol visit the COVID-19 in KPBSD Hub. Please call Nurse Yoly me, with questions.
*Universal masking close contact: when both students are wearing well-fitted face coverings, a close contact is someone who was within 3’ of a student who is positive for COVID-19, for more than 15 minutes in 24 hours.