Magnolia schools will be returning to the use of masks this semester.
The Magnolia School District called a special meeting on Jan. 18 to discuss the current state of COVID-19 spread in the community and the future of mask mandates for Magnolia schools.
The board unanimously decided to continue to use the policy put in place last fall, which requires anyone on school grounds to wear a mask during school hours if the transmission rate in Columbia County is 8% or higher. The rate of transmission will be tracked and the board may call another special meeting to announce if the mas mandate is lifted.
Superintendent John Ward informed school board members that the school district, as of Tuesday morning, had 136 total positive cases. Of the 136 cases, 40 were in staff members and another 96 cases were students'. On Tuesday, there were 293 people quarantined in the Magnolia school district. Out of the people quarantined, 112 were asymptomatic and awaiting test results and 50 were expected to test positive.
Although the school district will be enforcing masks during school hours, masks will not be required -- though they are encouraged -- during extra-curricular activities, since those are voluntary.
Both a second-grade teacher from East Side Elementary School and Anna Smith, a concerned citizen, took issue with the mask mandate policy. Smith also said she was opposed to the Board's policy that parents present issues to the school board a week in advance of meetings, noting that the school board's meeting times are not posted online.