Mississippi health officials advise unvaccinated adults, children to wear masks at school
JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - If your child isn’t fully vaccinated, they should continue to wear a mask to class when going back to school. That’s the recommendation just issued from the Mississippi State Department of Health.
MSDH on Friday issued strong public health guidance for students, teachers, and school staff. It’s consistent with CDC guidelines, but it remains just that, a recommendation.
When the Mississippi State Board of Education met this week in Biloxi, many were anxious to hear if masks would be mandated in classrooms for the 2021-2022 school year. Last school year, students and staff had to follow health and safety rules laid out by Governor Tate Reeves’s executive orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. This school year, officials appear reluctant to issue any hard rules for masks or vaccinations. Instead, they’re relying on individual responsibility.
Here are the recommendations issued Friday by the Mississippi State Department of Health:
- All eligible students, teachers, and staff 12 years of age and older should receive COVID-19 vaccination.
- Masks should be worn indoors in school settings by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
- Schools should maintain at least three feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.
- Routine screening testing of asymptomatic unvaccinated students, teachers and staff is recommended as an additional measure to prevent further transmission.
- Schools should continue to isolate COVID-19 infected students, teachers, and staff and continue contact tracing to identify exposed individuals for quarantine and exclusion from the school setting.
- All students, teachers and staff who have symptoms of any infectious illness, regardless of vaccination status, should stay home from school and be evaluated by their healthcare provider.
- As a reminder, fully vaccinated students, teachers and staff: Do not have to wear a mask when indoors; Do not have to quarantine or be excluded from the school setting if they have COVID-19 exposure; and do not have to be tested unless symptomatic.
MSDH has developed a School Based Testing Initiative to facilitate onsite screening testing for all unvaccinated asymptomatic students, teachers and staff (information available at School-Based COVID-19 Testing Initiative)
MSDH has also developed an Adopt-a-school Vaccination Program, working in partnership with schools and providers, to facilitate onsite COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible students, teachers and staff. Visit https://msdh.ms.gov/AdoptASchool for additional details.
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