Barring a Decline in COVID-19 Spread, Saline Students Will Start The School Year Wearing Masks in Class
Saline Area Schools students will be required to wear masks when they return to school this fall unless the spread of COVID-19 slows in Washtenaw County.
Superintendent Steve Laatsch presented the school district's plans during the Board of Education meeting held in the Ellen Ewing Performing Arts Center Tuesday. The meeting was held in the spacious auditorium due to the large crowd expected to attend.
Here are some of the highlights of Laatsch's presentation:
- All students, except for some K-6 students (not yet old enough to be vaccinated), all students will return to 5-day-a-week, in-person instruction.
- A limited number of K-6 students will be offered an asynchronous model of instruction online.
- For the rest of the student population, the controversial requirement of masks will be tied to county data and the CDC's model for COVID-19 transmission. In that model, low transmission level is 0-9 new cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days and a positivity rate under 5 percent. A moderate transmission level is 10-50 new cases per 100,000 and a positive test rate of 5-8 percent. A substantial transmission level would be 50-100 new cases per 100,000 over seven days and a positive test rate of 8-10 percent. A high transmission level is over 100 new cases per 100,000 over the last seven days and a positive test rate over 10 percent.
- Currently, with the recent uptick in cases, there are 87.05 new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days.The positivity rate is 3.15 percent. So Washtenaw County has "substantial" transmission, according to the CDC.
- When there is low transmission, masks will be recommended but not required for students in grades 7-12 and the Young Adult Program.
- When there is moderate transmission, masks will be recommended but not required for students in grades 7-12 and the Young Adult Program.
- When there is substantial transmission, masks will be required for students in grades 7-12 and the Young Adult Program.
- When there is high transmission, masks will be required for students in grades 7-12 and the Young Adult Program.
- Staff generally follow the same protocol, though terms must be negotiated with the bargaining units.
- A decision on masking during athletics has not yet been decided. As of now, that decision is made locally. The MHSAA could change that. Saline students will honor the masking rules of the schools where they play.
- Students will not be required to wear masks outdoors during recess.
- There will be times when teachers will have their masks off in order to properly instruct in reading/literacy.
- 6th grade is the dividing line between vaccinated and unvaccinated students. Saline Middle School will operate as a school within a school. School officials will work to keep the seventh and eighth-grade students away from the sixth-grade students.
- The district will not mandate testing or proof of vaccination. COVID-19 testing could be mandated by the MHSAA for sports.
- Masking will be required on school buses.
- When there are COVID-19 cases, contact tracing and quarantines, masking policies and vaccinations will come into play. When masking is optional, a classroom contact is someone within six feet of the infected person for 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. If masking is universal, that six-foot distance is halved to three.
- For quarantining, vaccinated and unvaccinated students will have different protocols. An unvaccinated student may have a 10-day quarantine. If asymptomatic, the student can return to school by submitting to two rapid tests and wearing a mask.
- In sports, vaccinated individuals will not be required to quarantine unless they develop symptoms. For indoor sports, unvaccinated athletes will be considered a close contact and be required to quarantine.
The Saline Post will have more reporting on this Wednesday.