Update on CDC Guidelines

Update on CDC Guidelines
Posted on 03/04/2022
Please click this link to find updates in a specific language regarding the wearing of masks in Akron Public Schools.

Here is the letter from Superintendent Fowler Mack (in English):

Dear APS Family:

There is important information I would like to share with you that comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that could change the future of our APS masking policy.  Because of these changes in public health guidance, we plan to first gather input from our staff and families and then use that information to establish the health practices and supports needed as we move forward. 

The CDC has announced it will no longer require people to wear masks on school buses or vans, including early care and education/child care programs.  It also no longer recommends universal indoor mask wearing in K-12 and early education settings in areas that have a low or medium COVID-19 Community Level.  Community Level is a tool for better calculating the impact the virus is having on an entire community.

So, here is how the Community Level will be calculated.  Adding more factors to its study of community infection rates, the CDC will now include in its equation:

  • the severity of the cases in a community

  • the community impact from the cases

  • community vaccination levels.  

Public health experts have determined that higher vaccination levels within a community lessen the impact of COVID.  Health officials now feel they should factor this into any guidance offered. 

Under the new guidance, the CDC will now recommend categorizing COVID Community Levels as High, Medium or Low and outline strategies communities should use in each of these (see chart below.)

Low

Medium

High

People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.

So, how is our community doing when it comes to COVID?  Overall, the news is good for Akron.  Summit County is faring well now and is in the Low category for COVID; our city is reporting its lowest number of new, positive cases per day since last July.  

 

Vaccination Rates

  • Summit County Adults Fully Vaccinated  71% 

  • Summit County rate (children AND adults) 62.5%

  • 5-11 year old rate 28%

  • 12-17 year old rate 54%

Because of this, Summit County Public Health and local hospitals are recommending continued mask use in our schools.  Additionally, I cannot stress enough the importance of increasing vaccination rates, especially among school-aged children.  

We will continue to support future efforts to increase vaccinations for our students and their families.  A new pilot partnership with Children's Hospital will soon provide free COVID PCR testing, on site in our schools.  I am hoping every student will take advantage of this benefit. 

In the coming weeks, we have two steps to take if we are to make any changes.  As APS has always valued feedback from its families, first I am going to survey our parents and guardians over the next week in preparation for the next step which may include a move to mask optional.  We will collect and analyze feedback by March 18.  In the meantime, our mask policy remains in effect. 

We will also continue to provide rapid testing kits for those who are symptomatic and prefer to self-administer the test.  Akron Public Schools will continue to provide personal protective equipment for all facilities, too, as a precautionary measure and continue to maintain our strict sanitation standards.

Now, as we have witnessed, the pendulum can swing quickly in a pandemic, so along with our health care partners, we will continue to monitor the daily and weekly updates of COVID cases in Summit County, Akron, and across our school district as well and will continually update our policies and procedures as necessary to respond to those trends. I feel the new Community Level index will be beneficial to our planning purposes.

As we approach the second anniversary of the start of the pandemic here, I thank you for all you have done and will continue to do as we navigate the COVID pandemic.  Your patience and support have proven invaluable, as we have persisted through the pandemic.

We are grateful.  


Sincerely,

Christine Fowler Mack

Superintendent


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