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Huntsville City Schools to continue masking with new 'Mask Matrix' procedure

The Masking Matrix procedure is set to go into effect on January 4, 2022, and the district will begin the second semester as mask mandatory.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Huntsville City Schools (HCS) Board of Education unanimously voted to update its masking policy at a special board meeting on Monday, November 29.

"The superintendent's team has worked in conjunction with local health care experts and other community leaders to create a Mask Matrix that allows for flexibility within our schools," the proposal reads. "This proposed Mask Matrix was intentionally developed to allow for transparency using data that is readily available to all take holders in order to help our families understand the District's masking procedure for the second semester and make the best decision for their child."

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The Masking Matrix procedure is set to go into effect on January 4, 2022, and the district will begin the second semester as mask mandatory.

The new procedures will require students, staff and visitors to wear masks indoors while on district property while the Overall Community Transmission Rate, determined by the Alabama Department of Public Health, is considered "Substantial" or "High" in Madison County for seven of the previous ten business days.

The new procedure leaves some room for exemptions:

  • Any students who receive Special Education services that have been found to be exempt from wearing masks will remain so during any period of Masks Mandatory for the Spring Semester.
  • Parents may still seek exemptions from any Masks Mandatory period for the same reasons that would have justified an exception during Fall 2021.

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Starting on January 14, 2022, the district will monitor the county's Overall Community Transmission Rate for the previous ten days. The district provided the following guidelines for how they will determine when to transition between masks required and masks optional:

  • If in Masks Optional: 
    • If the combined number of “Substantial” and “High” business days is at least 7, then switch to Masks Mandatory. 
    • If the combined number of “Substantial” and “High” business days is less than 7, then remain Masks Optional. 
  • If in Masks Mandatory: 
    • If the combined number of “Low” and “Moderate” business days is at least 7, then switch to Masks Optional. 
    • If the combined number of “Low” and “Moderate” business days is less 7, then remain Masks Mandatory.

According to the district, this analysis will take place on a weekly basis every Friday following January 14.