Students in grades PreK through 4th-grade will now be able to remove their masks while seated at their desks after a unanimous vote by the Johnson City Board of Education on Monday night. Elementary students will still be required to wear their masks in common areas and on school buses. Students in grades 5-12 will still be required to wear their masks at all times, besides while eating at lunch. Students in all grades will not be required to wear a mask while they are outside.
All other mitigation strategies recommended by the Tennessee Department of Health will remain largely the same throughout the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. The Johnson City Board of Education approved the following recommendations during their meeting on Monday, May 3.
1. Continue to follow all TDH recommendations regarding contact tracing and the Return to School Algorithm.
Johnson City Schools will continue to partner with the Northeast Regional Health Office to assist and support contact tracing within Johnson City Schools. We believe this allows more consistency throughout our system and allows this process to occur in a timely manner free of delays if left solely to an outside agency.
2. Allow removal of masks for students in elementary schools when they are seated at their desks due to the proven ability to maintain small groupings and separation while seated.
3. Continue to allow mask removal while outside due to current scientific evidence showing decreased risks of transmission outdoors.
4. Continue to allow mask removal while eating in the cafeteria with continued use of cohorts while seated.
5. Suspend use of masks for students during summer school session pending continued improving data concerning transmission of Covid-19 across Washington County, while continuing physical distancing, hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
The overall population within our schools will be much lower allowing better ability to separate students and faculty and allow us better capacity to monitor cases of Covid-19 and quickly interrupt any viral transmission that may occur.
6. Coordinate vaccine PODs within Johnson City Schools with the local health department to allow easier access of vaccines for all eligible students and faculty.
7. Continue to base mitigation strategies on the current evidence of transmission within our community and recommendations by local health experts to allow Johnson City Schools the ability to make informed decisions regarding the safety of our students and faculty.