Rolla School District to require students wear masks first weeks of 2021-2022 school year

Lori Amos
The Rolla Daily News

The Rolla Board of Education and administrative team announced the school district will start requiring all staff and students in 7th through 12th-grade to wear masks during the first two weeks of school.

In a letter to parents, Rolla Superintendent Craig Hounsom said the board of education and administrative team have been diligently monitoring local COVID-19 related conditions and consulting with local health officials to provide a safe, successful start to the 2021-2022 school year. 

“Given the data we are receiving along with the number of quarantines we are experiencing within our staff before school starting, we plan to begin the year with all staff and students in grades 7-12 wearing masks while indoors and on buses,” Hounsom said. 

Students in Kindergarten through 6th grade will remain in their cohorts to limit contact with others throughout the day.

The district will require students to wear masks as they enter, exit and move throughout buildings and while riding on buses for the first two weeks of school until Sept. 3. Then a decision will be made to either extend or rescind the requirement and move to a mask-optional protocol, Hounsom said. 

Hounsom said, “It is important to note that quarantine procedures are still in effect, and only those who are fully vaccinated, in a setting where all parties are masked, or have been COVID positive in the past 90 days will be exempt from being sent home in the event of close contact with a COVID positive person.”

“Fewer quarantines will result in fewer interruptions in academics, activities, athletics and other services. With this in mind, we determined that these strategies would be the best way to keep students and staff safe and keep the maximum number of students and staff in school during these crucial first two weeks,” Hounsom said. 

Rolla School District will consider the number of positive and quarantined students per school when determining a movement between requiring masks or making masks optional. 

Changes in mask protocols will also be considered by the team, grade level and building based on contact tracing information, Hounsom said. 

The district will provide those specific metrics for parents and guardians pending board approval. 

“We understand this change will not be favorable to everyone. Please know that all decisions at Rolla 31 are made with the best interest of students at heart, and this is certainly no exception. Please be kind to our staff members and each other as we all strive to provide the best quality education and secure learning environment for every student,” Hounsom said.