COVID-19 Updates & Recommendations - Aug 5, 2021
August 5, 2021
MUSD Staff and Families,
Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year! I wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate all of our teachers and staff for a very productive and exciting first week of school! MUSD had the privilege of welcoming back more than 12,700 students to our exceptional schools. While there were some challenges that inevitably pop up during any first week of school, I have enjoyed touring our campuses and feeling the positive energy that is evident as teaching and learning takes place. What a far cry from last year at this time when our schools were quiet and learning was taking place online. We are celebrating the great energy that is palpable only when we are together!
While returning to schools in-person has been a highlight, news and recent data related to increased transmission of COVID-19 has been worrisome with cases in Pima County, the state and nation on the rise. We have also seen cases in our own schools increase during this first week back.
Over the past week, we have seen a couple of school districts defy state law by mandating masks for all students, staff, and visitors. MUSD is not taking this stance. We fully recognize the concerning number of cases coupled with revised recommendations from health officials across all levels of the government, urging individuals to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. Per Arizona law ARS 15-342.05, mask mandates are not allowed, and we believe that it is important for MUSD to follow the advice of our legal counsel and continue to honor the law.
With this said, in the wake of evolving variations of the COVID virus, concerns about vaccination rates, and recommendations from health experts, we strongly recommend all teachers, students, staff and visitors wear masks when indoors, regardless of vaccination status when on campus. The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status, as does the Arizona Department of Health, and the Pima County Health Department. There is an opportunity for us all to work together as a community to slow the spread and minimize transmissions.
In addition to strongly recommending that all students and teachers wear masks when indoors, it is imperative that all employees and students be aware of and follow our District Mitigation plan. This includes maintaining physical distance when possible, washing hands or using hand sanitizer throughout the day, and most importantly, staying home when you are sick and notifying your school health office.
For mitigation strategies to be most successful, our students and staff can’t do this alone, and having a consistent message will encourage healthy habits community-wide. We ask that our MUSD families be an extension of this effort. We encourage parents/guardians to talk with your student(s) about these important strategies that will keep us healthy and reduce the spread of the virus.
While the District is asking everyone to do his or her part, we will continue to do ours. In addition to providing recommendations and enforcing our mitigation strategies, MUSD Health Services remains a leader in collaborating with Pima County Health Department in conducting case investigations. We are committed to serving our staff, families and students by providing sound guidance and case recommendations based on information provided by impacted individuals and families. We will continue to communicate with transparency to the MUSD community so you are aware of local trends.
Questions may continue to arise, and we have created FAQs about our stance and managing COVID cases in the District (see attached). We will continue to maintain an MUSD FAQ page online as we receive any new updates or frequent questions.
As we launch into the school year, we thank you again for your continued flexibility, support and resilience. Stay healthy and connected with us. Together, we can remain strong and keep our kids safely in schools!
- Dan Streeter, Superintendent and MUSD Administration