MADISON, Alabama — UPDATE: On August 2, Madison City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols reversed course, announcing the district would require masks to be worn indoors and on busses. This change goes into effect on August 4. Read Nichols' full announcement below:
"Madison City Schools will mandate masks for all students and staff inside school buildings and buses, effective Aug. 4. This change from masks optional comes after the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) issued a revised toolkit for schools earlier today with new quarantine protocols that will inevitably lessen quarantining if masks are worn in schools."
Madison City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols on Tuesday announced the district plans to start the upcoming school year with masks being optional.
"I am continuing to monitor health information regarding our community from several sources. Unlike last year, we are not under a mask mandate from either a local or State health officer. If at such time as a local or State health officer does institute a mask mandate, we will certainly follow their orders," said Nichols.
Nichols went on to say that the district's masking policies are not static and a mask requirement could be implemented at a later date - with or without a mask mandate.
He said should the district's masking policies change, he will communicate that decision immediately.
Earlier in July, Gov. Kay Ivey said children should return to schools in person without mask mandates in place. On July 19, the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance recommending anyone over the age of two to wear, including those who are fully vaccinated, wear masks when returning to school.
In contrast, Huntsville City Schools on Monday announced it would be requiring masks to be worn by any over the age of 2 in schools.
Nichols' full message can be read below:
As we get closer to the beginning of this new school year, I wanted to update you on a few areas of importance. First, please know that the school district will be utilizing a new student data system this year. Our new system, PowerSchool, will replace iNow. This change was mandated by the Alabama State Department of Education, and our team has been working all summer to prepare for this rollout. You will receive information in the next few days from your local school on how to access your student’s information.
Second, our plan at this time is to open school next week with masks optional. I have received many emails from parents who are both for and against mandating masks. As is my practice, I always try to respond to parent emails. However, with the start of school at hand, I will not reliably be able to reply to all emails concerning this area. I am continuing to monitor health information regarding our community from several sources. Unlike last year, we are not under a mask mandate from either a local or State health officer. If at such time as a local or State health officer does institute a mask mandate, we will certainly follow their orders. Even if we do not receive a mask mandate, that does not necessarily mean that I will not decide to implement a mask requirement in the future. However, our plan for next week is to start with masks optional.
There also seems to be some confusion in this area as it relates to our Board meetings this week. Our school board meeting for today will strictly be to address final hirings of school personnel. At this time, there is not a plan to have a work session on the subject of masking in the district. Of course, I read and appreciate all of the emails I receive on this subject. If in the future I choose to make a change in the masking plan for the district, I will certainly communicate that immediately to you.
I know this year will bring challenges, but I am confident that our Madison City Schools team will provide an excellent learning environment for your children. I appreciate your support of our school district.
IN OTHER NEWS: Huntsville City Schools to require masking at school