Pandemic Update – Masks Required Effective Jan. 10

Covid-19 pandemic information

Positive reported cases of COVID-19 have risen at very high rates in RISD over the last week and have reached pandemic-high levels. For that reason, RISD is temporarily implementing a Pre-K through grade 12 mask requirement for people inside schools beginning Monday, Jan. 10, for a period of three weeks.

The district will assess pandemic conditions in advance of Jan. 31 to determine if the universal mask requirement will continue or if the district will return to a targeted approach to mask protocols based on class, grade level and school by school data.

“This decision was made because of an unprecedented rise in positive cases among students and employees,” Interim Superintendent Tabitha Branum said. “We continue to focus on the goal of keeping our schools open for in-person teaching and learning, and this is a necessary step if we hope to keep our students learning in school.”

Additional information for students, parents, and staff includes:

  • Masks are recommended to be worn by students and adults inside schools by the CDC, the State of Texas, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS – the public health authority for all RISD schools), and the panel of local physicians advising RISD.
  • Active positive cases in RISD have risen from 49 total on Dec. 7 to 1,089 on Jan. 6, a more than 2100% increase. The district has reached a new pandemic-high number of positive cases each day since returning from winter break. The previous pandemic-high number of positive cases in RISD was 367 on Sept. 3.
  • RISD Health Services continues to track reported positive cases among students and staff by classroom, grade level, and school or central facility, and the district will consider additional mitigation steps on a case-by-case basis in consultation with DCHHS. If an outbreak occurs with a high level of absenteeism or linked positive cases indicating significant transmission in a class, grade level, or school, RISD may temporarily require masks in a classroom, grade level, or school, or may temporarily shift students to virtual instruction. This targeted approach, which is endorsed by DCHHS, allows RISD to base further mitigation decisions on available data.
  • Parents should be monitoring students for symptoms daily, and should not send students to school if ill. Parents should notify the school nurse if a student is feeling ill or has tested positive for COVID.
  • The most effective protection against severe symptoms and hospitalization from COVID is a vaccination. Vaccines are approved for people age 5+ and readily available. Find a nearby vaccine provider by visiting www.vaccines.gov
  • RISD offers two sites for no-cost COVID testing for RISD students and staff.
  • RISD Parents and staff can track active positive reported cases on the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal.
  • RISD is evaluating the updated guidance from the CDC issued on Jan. 6, 2022, for school settings related to quarantine and isolation periods for people who test positive for COVID-19. The updated guidance would permit people to return to work or school sooner than 10 days under some circumstances. Revised RISD protocols may be announced once the guidance is evaluated related to existing RISD processes and potential changes in guidance from other entities such as the State of Texas and DCHHS.
  • RISD’s pandemic operating guidelines, along with parent FAQs, are available in The Blueprint.

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