Ballard County Schools to go to optional masks on Nov. 1

Students and staff in Ballard County Schools will have the option to attend classes without wearing masks, beginning on Monday, Nov. 1. Visitors no longer will be required to mask inside school buildings, but masks still will be required by federal regulation for students and drivers on school buses.

“Our district administration has monitored a variety of resources on a daily basis before making this decision,” said Dr. Casey Allen, Ballard superintendent. “Those factors include a downward trend for our county on the state incidence map, falling community case rates, and the small number of cases in our own students and staff."

Purchase District Health Department numbers indicate that Ballard County currently has the second-lowest number of active cases since school started in mid-August. Also following a downward trend, this week’s active case numbers in students and staff are the lowest they have been since school started.

“We believe we have met the parameters to move down to Level 2 on our COVID protocol,” Dr. Allen continued. “We also understand that as cold weather comes, those numbers may go back up. If that happens, we’ll be looking at a variety of metrics, and we’ll go back to Level 3 if we believe that is necessary. We’ll be ready, and we’ll let our families and staff know about any changes.” Direct messages would be sent to families, and the level will remain posted on the home page of the district’s website.

 “The health and safety of our students, staff, and community remain our first priority,” Dr. Allen said. “Masks are optional, meaning anyone who wishes to continue wearing one is welcome to do so. We also will begin a ‘test-to-stay’ program next week. That will give asymptomatic students and staff who are directly exposed to positive cases an alternative to quarantine, and will add an extra measure of protection with rapid testing.”

      Details about the test-to-stay program will be released early next week, and families will receive more information.