The downward trend in COVID-19 cases may create a change in the Baldwin County School District’s (BCSD) masking policy in the coming weeks.
School Superintendent Dr. Noris Price updated board of education members on where the 4,650-student district stands with the coronavirus during the elected board’s monthly meeting held last Tuesday. Price shared that the Georgia Department of Public Health’s report for the North Central Health District, of which Baldwin County is a part, revealed that the county had been downgraded from “substantial” to “moderate” spread based on recent case numbers.
If that trend continues, the superintendent said that she may recommend that students and staff wear masks inside schools rather than require them after the Thanksgiving break. Price pointed to declining case numbers in the community and within the school district itself as key reasons, in addition to the fact that the COVID vaccine has now been made available to children ages 5 and up.
“I will monitor the spread and make sure we are moderate,” Price told the school board. “If we increase and go back to substantial, then the masks will come back on. I will let parents know that before we make any decisions.”
The school board during the pandemic gave the superintendent the power to change policy when she sees fit rather than having to wait for board approval. BCSD did not require masks the first week or so of school, but put a mandate in place as cases in Baldwin County spiked soon after classes began.
Case numbers never got out of control, but have still gone way down since those first few weeks of school. Confirmed cases topped out in the 50s before dropping down to the teens and single digits on a weekly basis. There were 15 total cases (14 students, one staff) the first week of November, but the second week, Nov. 8-12, there were no positives reported among the over 5,300 combined Baldwin County students and employees. That’s a first for the local school system during this 2021-22 school term.
Any parents or kids apprehensive about a possible change in mask policy need only look at Georgia College as a case study. Case numbers there jumped once the fall semester began, but have also settled into the singly digits weekly without a mask mandate in place since classes resumed in August.