Madison City Schools requiring masks in-doors, Superintendent explains why

"I'm looking for that point when I know we won't have mass quarantining," said Nichols.

Posted: Aug 3, 2021 7:41 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2021 7:42 PM

For some school districts in North Alabama, back-to-school calls for mandatory masking.

Madison City Schools, now joining Huntsville and Arab City Schools.

Superintendent of Madison City Schools, Dr. Ed Nichols, said the decision to require masks came after the Alabama Department of Public Health released its back-to-school kit.

Dr. Nichols said they reversed their masking policy, not because of rising coronavirus cases, but because the CDC changed their quarantining guidelines.

"In the past, even if you had a mask on, even if you were in six feet, you were quarantined, but this year you have a mask on and are between three and six feet, then you're not quarantining," said Dr. Nichols.

Dr. Nichols said last year, quarantining affected in-person learning for students and their teachers. This school year, Dr. Nichols wants to ensure students stay in the classroom.

"I'm looking for that point when I know we won't have mass quarantining," said Nichols.

For some Madison City Schools parents, there's disappointment. For others, they feel like they can finally take a deep breath.

"We could have a petition of 400 and there are 24,000 parents, at what point does that make a difference," said Dr. Nichols. "I listen to that input and I appreciate it, but I'm not swayed by trying to figure out a vote, I'm not a politician."

Laura Harper is one of the parents who is feeling relieved as she prepares her three kids for their first day of school. 

"My kids are happy they're going back to school," said Harper. "They knew the only way I was going to let them go to school is if they wore a mask."

Harper also said she understands the frustration of sending a child to school with a mask. 

"This is not the ideal way to do school," said Harper. "I can completely sympathize with people who are very disappointed that their kids are wearing masks because it's not the best way to learn." 

Dr. Nichols said he's looking forward to making a change and going back to mask optional. In a letter home to parents on Wednesday night, Dr. Nichols said, "I plan to reevaluate the mask requirement no later than Labor Day."

One of the schools remaining mask optional is Albertville City Schools. The Superintendent, Dr. Boyd English, said the district has plans in place if there's a spike in coronavirus cases. 

In the Alabama Department of Public Health and CDC back-to-school toolkit, both mention requiring masks when on buses. 

"Sometimes in our early grades kindergarten through fourth grade, they may forget a mask, but it's a partnership between the city school system and our parents to make sure students who ride the bus are protected," said Dr. English. 

Madison County Schools also shared its back-to-school plans. The district plans to remain mask optional but will enforce masks when students are on the bus. 

The full list of North Alabama schools that are mask optional and requiring a mask, can be found here. 

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