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Masks optional in the new year for GIPS

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 8:45 AM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island Public Schools announced plans to transition to masks recommended but not mandatory for staff, students, and visitors effective January 3, 2022.

Superintendent Dr. Grover presented the information during the GIPS Board of Education meeting on Dec. 9.

The GIPS pandemic team and administrators have continuously engaged with local and statewide medical health officials, the Central District Health Department (CDHD), other school districts and as they delved into research and considered the impact of the pandemic on the district’s schools.  

As of November 3, 2021 the vaccine became available for students ages 5 and older. The vaccine availability to younger children led to the consideration for masks to be recommended but not mandatory.

In making this decision, GIPS surveyed their parents to gain a better understanding of their comfort level with masks potentially being optional. The survey yielded clear results with 85% of parent respondents and 88% of staff respondents expressing somewhat or very comfortable levels with a potential update to masks recommended.

”The resiliency and agility of our staff, students and families in the midst of this pandemic is to be commended,” Dr. Grover shared, “Student and staff safety remains one of the district’s top priorities. We recognize that the scope of the pandemic and its impact on our schools has changed, and we will continue to evolve with it to ensure our students thrive.”

As the district prepares to make the transition to masks recommended but not mandatory starting January 3, 2022, GIPS will work alongside the CDHD to help make the vaccine as accessible as possible to those who want it.  

GIPS views the vaccine availability as not only important but as an opportunity to transition to masks recommended not mandatory.  

An addendum to the Safe Return to School Plan has been drafted which addresses new thresholds and considerations for pandemic protocols. That will be made public and available online in the coming days.

The GIPS COVID dashboard is still receiving regular updates and may be found online as well.

”We will continue to move along with the pace of our community and work with our health officials as we have throughout this process to monitor, review, and adjust,” Dr. Grover said. “There are many great things to look forward to as we enter the next phase of the school year at GIPS. We will continue to keep safety at the forefront, while focusing on Every Student, Every Day, A Success.”

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