Disruptions stayed at their reduced levels of the previous week. We revisit the mask mandate figures for the Top 500 as states announce policy...
Week of 1/31: Re-Mapping Mask Mandates
Disruptions continued their decline from last week. This week we introduce a revised Mask Policy Tracker that details the Top 500 districts across the US and their mask policies.
1. This week the number of schools that experienced at least one day of disruption dropped to 2,103, a drop of 58% versus the previous week's total of 5,018, still higher than most of the Fall but a large drop from earlier in the month:
- Week of January 3rd: 3,404
- Week of January 10th: 3,892
- Week of January 17th: 3,024
- Week of January 24: 1,072
- Districts are classified based on what is being enforced at the district level. In many jurisdictions there is legal action in motion and the district's regulation of masks differs from executive-level orders.
- Some districts have metrics, such as community Covid 19 rates, or student vaccination rates, that determine mask policies. Our classification of those districts reflects their current mask policies in place.
- "Partial" mandates fall into a number of sub-categories ranging from staff mask requirements while students are not required to wear masks, masks within certain distances, and masks for certain groups of students.
4. As disruptions reach a lower baseline, the map showing disruptions since January 1st shows the breadth of recent disruptions:
- Based on disruption activity we saw around Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Break, and MLK Day Weekend, we note the following adjustment by Urbana School District 116, IL around Presidents Day weekend that "In anticipation of sub shortages and an increase in COVID cases, the District is proactively planning ahead for an E-Learning Day on Tuesday, February 22. This will be an asynchronous workday for students . . ."
- Middle and high schools in Millville, NJ will have an early dismissal through February 25th in order to fully staff classrooms.
- Bristol, TN school district will be closed three consecutive Mondays "in response to challenges we are facing due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in our school district."
- Henrico, VA school district, "recognizing that this is not an 'ordinary' school year, and that students and staff are experiencing additional stress and anxiety because of the pandemic," has mixed in multiple days off over the course of the Spring to the normal school calendar.
- Lincoln, NE public schools created "Temporary District-wide COVID Response Fridays" and closed for three consecutive Fridays across January and February.
- Unitah School District, UT "is suspending Friday in-person learning for the next 6 Fridays, beginning on Friday, Jan. 21. Students will attend classes online on Fridays during this time. This will provide teachers with more time to plan for and respond to the large number of students who are absent and learning online."
- In New Orleans, the deadline for the vaccine requirement for all students 5 and over is this week.
- Detroit's announcement about the district's return to in-person January 31st offers a view into the logistics the district is managing: "Although the city’s infection rate has improved it is still in the mid-30s . . .. Online learning attendance has improved (near 75% now) but still needs to be higher. Please ensure that your students and children are logging into each of their classes daily. Please be reminded that students must have a consent to COVID test on file by January 31st or they will be transferred to the district’s virtual school. . . "
- Masconomet, MA school district, with an 80%+ vaccination rate, received a waiver from the state to allow vaccinated students to go without masks. "The next step . . . . would be to seek a waiver from the Boxford Board of Public Health from its Emergency Order Requiring Face Coverings, " writes the Superintendent. "Because of the current surge in COVID cases, and given the other associated challenges , , , , I have not approached the Boxford Board of Public Health regarding this waiver, nor do (I) anticipate doing so in the near future."
- Substitute teacher shortages, and associated recruitment and incentive offerings, are a nationwide phenomenon at this time. This week we noted "Subs for Subs" run by Regional Office 21 in Illinois featuring assistance for a short term substitute license and application process, training, complimentary fingerprinting and a submarine sandwich for attendees.
- Clark County School District, NV, in response to ongoing bus driver shortages, announced new start and end times for schools during the 2022/23 academic year to better accommodate staffing.