Alabaster City Schools to require masks starting Sept. 7

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Due to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases involving the delta variant, Alabaster City Schools has made an updated decision about the requirement of masks inside school buildings.

Starting Sept. 7, the school system will require masks or facial coverings inside all school buildings for both faculty/staff and students in all grades, including Pre-K-12th, until further notice.

“At this point, we must base our decisions on practices that mitigate the spread of COVID-19, decrease the number of isolations/quarantines of faculty/staff and students, and help maintain in-person instruction,” ACS Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said in a letter to parents Thursday morning, Sept. 2.

During the first release of COVID-19 numbers in schools across Alabama, Alabaster City Schools had 34 total positive cases, including 29 students and five employees. That made up 0.5 percent of on-campus students and 0.6 percent of the ACS employee population.

In addition, 55 students were quarantined because of close-contact exposure, while one employee was quarantined for the same reason.

Numbers for the week of Aug. 30 have yet to be released.

“While we are encouraged by our low number of positive cases within ACS and the availability of vaccinations to persons over the age of 12, the number of positive cases in our community and surrounding communities continues to rise,” Vickers said. “Further, the number of close contacts having to isolate due to possible exposure continues to increase since school began on Aug. 19.”

Across the state, there have been 21,232 new cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days, while Shelby County has accounted for 1,177 of those cases. Those are both increases from last week when there were about 100 less cases in both the state and the county.

“The Alabaster City School System is committed to continuously analyzing COVID-19 data pertaining to the safety and well-being of our students and employees,” Vickers said. “Since the onset of the pandemic, we have strived to keep our students and employees safe and to keep our schools open for in-person instruction. Our staff has done an outstanding job of encouraging social distancing and the use of masks and maintaining a clean, healthy learning environment.”

Vickers said the school system will continue to follow its plan for continued in-person instruction to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

The school system is also asking the parents, guardians and employees monitor any symptoms of illness in themselves and the students.

If a child has symptoms, is awaiting COVID-19 test results or has tested positive, they should not return to school until cleared by a medical professional. They are also asked to practice good hygiene through washing hands and using sanitizer, while practicing social distancing.

“Our goal is to keep our students and staff safe and healthy. With your cooperation, we can continue in-person instruction for the students of Alabaster,” Vickers said. “Thank you for your support and patience as we navigate this public health crisis. We will get through this together.”