Houston County schools go mask-optional as state mandate set to expire

Local News

HOUSTON Co, Ala. (WDHN) — As the statewide mask mandate expires on April 9, many school districts across Southeast Alabama are siding with Gov. Kay Ivey in letting students, teachers, and staff go mask-optional.

“So starting Monday, it will be the choice of the employee or the student as to whether or not they would want to wear the mask and what they’re comfortable with,” Houston County School Superintendent Brandy White said.

The Houston County Board of Education has jumped on the train, as many of their faculty and staff have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The majority have gotten the vaccine, or they’ve had COVID,” White said. “We feel like we’ve reached that percentage for what they say would be herd immunity. We currently have zero cases in Houston County schools as far as employees and students.”

Although masks will no longer be required for Houston County Schools, White did say that people are more than welcome to wear masks if it makes them feel more comfortable.

He also explained that if after the mandate expires the district sees a rise in COVID-19 cases, students and staff could see the masks return.

“If we see the numbers change, you know, we’ve said the whole time that our decisions right now are fluid,” he said. “They’re going to change with what’s happening.”

When asked how the board made the decision based on what other districts were doing, White said that it based off of the numbers and where their schools were at now.

“Based on what we see with the numbers that we’ve had vaccinated and the number of cases that we have right now, I see no need not to give those people the choice,” he finished.

Many other school systems are lifting their required mask mandates in parts. Dothan City Schools will require faculty and staff to continue wearing masks, but not students.

Elba City Schools and Geneva City Schools will highly encourage but not require mask wearing.

Ozark City Schools will not require students to wear masks but if teachers are immunocompromised, they can request the class to wear masks, but students will not be disciplined if they choose not to.

Enterprise City Schools will not require masks during learning but during transitional periods, and Henry County will require masks throughout the rest of the school year.

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