Rockwood School Board set to vote on new mitigation strategies plan this week

During+Scott+Holtmanns+5th+Hour+Biomedical+Science+class%2C+senior+George+Tambassis%2C+sophomore+Ellie+Kipper+and++freshman+Sreeram+Manchkalapud+dissect+a+heart.+Currently%2C+Rockwood+has+a+mask+policy+in+place+at+all+its+schools.+On+Dec.+13%2C+interim+superintendent+Tim+Ricker+sent+an+email+to+staff+announcing+Rockwoods+plan+to+vote+on+switching+to+a+mask-recommended+policy+beginning+on+Jan.+3+in+schools+during+the+Dec.+16+Board+of+Education+meeting.

Audrey Savacool

During Scott Holtmann’s 5th Hour Biomedical Science class, senior George Tambassis, sophomore Ellie Kipper and freshman Sreeram Manchkalapud dissect a heart. Currently, Rockwood has a mask policy in place at all its schools. On Dec. 13, interim superintendent Tim Ricker sent an email to staff announcing Rockwood’s plan to vote on switching to a mask-recommended policy beginning on Jan. 3 in schools during the Dec. 16 Board of Education meeting.

Makayla Archambeault, Editor-in-Chief

At the Rockwood Board of Education’s regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 16, the board members will be voting on a plan to implement changes to its COVID-19 mitigation strategies which will feature a new “mask-recommended” policy to take effect on Jan. 3, the day students and staff return after Winter Break.

If approved by the board, the policy will mean that students and staff will not be required to wear masks at school. In addition, if they were in close contact to a person with COVID-19 while unmasked, students and staff will be permitted to remain in school if they are considered healthy. Schools will also no longer send out building-wide notifications for each positive case, but the Health Indicators on the district’s website will still be updated daily.

The plan also has a mechanism in place to return to a two-week period of mask requirement for all students and staff in a building if that building shows a positivity and/or exclusion (staff and students home with multiple symptoms) rate of 4% or more.

In an email sent to the Rockwood community, Interim Superintendent Tim Ricker said, “The consensus has been that this updated plan is a practical and responsible approach to continue to mitigate the pandemic in our buildings while keeping healthy students and staff in school. Our mitigation strategies over the past year have served us well as we have seen very little transmission in our schools and we are now ready to move forward with the next phase of our plan.”

Rockwood’s announcement follows weeks of controversy over mask mandates that began with a lawsuit won by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to outlaw mask mandates in Missouri.