February 24, 2022
WGSD Moves to ‘Masks Recommended’ in K-12 Schools
Beginning Monday, March 7, the Webster Groves School District will recommend, but not require, the use of masks in all district buildings and on district transportation for k-12 students, staff and others. If the building COVID-19 positivity rate exceeds1.5% at an individual school, students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks at that school for at least two weeks.
The district will continue to publish daily updates on the number of cases for each school on our online dashboard https://www.webster.k12.mo.us/Page/23966 and will notify families, staff and students if a change in masking status is needed. You can also find a chart at the link showing each building and what 1.5 percent of the population is.
The new “mask-recommended” environment will allow choice for individuals so long as certain criteria are met at each school, including percentage of positive active cases (using the seven-day cumulative average). If the percentage of active cases exceeds 1.5 percent of a school’s population (students and staff), masks will be required in that building for at least two weeks. To resume “mask-recommended” status, the percentage of positive cases must be 1.5 percent or less after the two-week period.
Given that most preschool children are not eligible for vaccination, all preschool staff and students will continue to wear face coverings at this time. Preschool staff can choose “mask optional” when not in the presence of children. As we continue to monitor internal and local data, this decision will be revisited. Please note that because masking will continue at the pre-K level, modified quarantine rules will apply in the three to five-year old rooms, meaning students can continue to come to school even if someone tests positive.
We continue to encourage vaccination or boosting, and please continue to have your child stay home if they are symptomatic.
Why are you saying masks are “recommended” rather than optional?
The district continues to align its mitigation practices with guidance from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, which has advised recommending mask usage. With that in mind, WGSD will continue to recommend, but not require, that all students and staff wear masks.
Will non-vaccinated students and staff be required to use a mask?
No. The Webster Groves School District is committed to honoring staff and student privacy about vaccination status. District health professionals can ask for information about vaccination status during contact tracing, however parents are not required to disclose this information.
I would like my children to continue wearing a mask. Can you ensure that they do so?
We encourage you to discuss expectations with your children so they understand what you want them to do during the school day. Teachers and school staff will not be able to require a student to wear a mask in these circumstances.
Are there any circumstances when masks would be required even when positive cases remain at or under 1.5 percent?
Masks will continue to be required on buses, as required by federal guidelines, as well as for preschool children.
There are also some specific instances when an accommodation for an immunocompromised student or staff member may mean students must wear masks. In addition, when students and staff are outside school as part of a school-sponsored event (field trip, away games, etc.), they will follow the expectations of the school or business they visit. Staff or families can contact your school’s administrator if you feel accommodations may be necessary.
My child is worried about transitioning to “mask recommended.” How can I ease these concerns?
District staff are working on ways to make sure we’re prepared to support our students on these changes, while ensuring that everyone is respectful of others’ choices. If you have specific concerns, please call your school counselor. You can find some online resources at this link
Are students required to get vaccinated?
No. The Missouri school immunization requirements for students don’t include the COVID vaccination.
What mitigation strategies will remain in place in the schools?
Other than requiring masks, all of our current mitigation strategies will remain in place.
Does the move to "mask-recommended" change what happens if someone tests positive or is required to quarantine?
A student/staff member who tests positive will still need to stay at home for a minimum of 5 days. If they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours) they may return to school on Day 6 or thereafter. They should continue to wear a well fitting mask around others at home and in school for 5 additional days (days 6-10) after the end of their 5-day isolation period. If they are unable to wear a mask when around others, they should continue to isolate for a full 10 days. As testing remains a key mitigation strategy, we encourage testing on Day 5 or shortly thereafter.
Close contacts who are required to quarantine will still need to stay home for at minimum 5 days. If they develop symptoms, they are to get tested immediately and isolate at home until they receive their test results. If they do not develop symptoms, they should return to school on Day 6.They should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and school for 5 additional days (Days 6 through day 10) after the end of their 5-day quarantine period. As testing remains a key mitigation strategy, we encourage testing on Day 5 or shortly thereafter.
What will the school district do to enforce mask wearing on days 6-10 by close contacts or asymptomatic students?
We will encourage all families to discuss expectations with their children so they understand the importance of continuing to follow the district’s guidelines. The district will expect these students to wear their masks for the full ten days. Teachers, nurses, administrators and others will remind students about continuing to wear masks. Those who don't will be disciplined.