Mason schools reopen after COVID-19 shutdown
By Ken Childers
Mason Public Schools resumed on-site learning Tuesday after a two-week shutdown caused by a positive case of COVID-19 in a student.
On Aug. 23, Superintendent Alfred Gaches announced that a student had tested positive for the virus and the district’s distance learning plan would be implemented for at least 14 days. All extra-curricular activities were cancelled while the campus was closed to students.
Last Wednesday Gaches announced that in-person classes would resume on Sept. 8. with strict safety protocols in place, including mandatory face masks for all students and teachers.
“The district has been in close contact with the Okfuskee County Health Department many times during the two weeks of distance learning, and no new cases involving our school family have been reported,” Gaches said.
According to Gaches, students have been provided with two reusable masks which must be worn while inside campus buildings or while they are in transit to other buildings, even if on a school bus. All students and staff members will have their temperature taken each morning, and anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher will be sent home. Anyone who exhibits other COVID-19 symptoms will be required to quarantine for 14 days or until a negative result is received.
Gaches had some words of caution for parents and guardians of students, especially for those considering sending students who had been recently sick back to class.
“I can’t emphasize enough the point that if your child has been ill recently, please don’t send them to school while they continue to run a fever or exhibit signs of being ill,” Gaches said. “Please don’t give them medication to lessen the fever or symptoms thinking that it will be okay if they go to school. It isn’t. A few more days for them to recover will be better than possible exposure that would result in another 14-day quarantine for everyone. Working together, we can hopefully limit the exposure for our students and staff.”
Other safety protocols in place include leaving bus windows down to allow for better air flow, turning off all drinking fountains and sanitizing common surfaces such as desks, chairs and handles on a more frequent basis.
“Mason Schools is committed to safety and educating our students in the best possible manner. Your cooperation and understanding during these uncertain times is important and appreciated,” Gaches said. “With your help, we will offer your children as much normalcy as possible this school year. Let us all commit to staying at home if we are sick, realizing that social distancing is a good thing when possible, and practicing diligent personal hygiene to slow the spread of COVID-19. Together, we will get through this, it’s what we do.”