One Wiregrass superintendent is re-evaluating whether masks will be mandatory during the upcoming school year

Local News

ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WDHN) — It’s kind of hard to believe but the start of the school year is just around the corner. Both teachers and students will be headed back to the classroom, but the big question on parents’ minds is, “what will be the protocols for COVID-19 in schools.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced fully vaccinated teachers and students won’t have to wear masks indoors during the 2021-2022 school year, but with all of our Wiregrass counties in the ‘very high risk’ category for the spread of the Coronavirus, one superintendent said changes for the new school year may be on the way.

According to Enterprise City School’s Superintendent, Doctor Zel Thomas is still looking at data and has not made any concrete plans for whether masks will be mandated for teachers, staff, and students.

“Coffee County, unfortunately, is a ‘high-risk’ county so based on that information from the Alabama Health Department, it gives me a little concern,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the district still serves a large population of students who aren’t eligible to get the vaccine, which is why he is going to sit down with local medical experts to get their recommendations in order to keep everyone healthy, safe, and in the classroom this upcoming school year.

“I have a doctorate but it is a Ph.D. it’s not an MD,” Thomas said. “With that in mind, I want to make the best choices for our district, for our kids, so we can have school all year-long because the intent is to not have virtual.”

Doctor George Narby, the Chief Medical Officer at Southeast Health said it’s especially important teachers and students who aren’t vaccinated still wear a mask.

The CDC still recommends students remain at least three feet apart in classrooms while social distancing and the unvaccinated wearing masks will all help in returning to the new normal.

“I strongly recommend wearing a mask and taking measures, either through frequent hand-washing or maintaining some distance to reduce their chances of getting COVID or spreading COVID,” Narby said.

Thomas said before recent COVID-19 case numbers, his intentions were to have a school year with masks being optional, but now his thoughts have slightly changed because his goal is to get every student caught up from last year’s lock-downs and virtual learning.

“The more people who get it, the better chance of us having another successful year without having any outbreaks or us having to shut down a school,” Thomas said.

Doctor Thomas tells WDHN a decision about this Fall’s COVID-19 protocols will be made closer to the start of school. In the meantime, he encourages everyone in the Wiregrass to get vaccinated so teachers and students can have some sense of normalcy.

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