Oxford School District requiring masks for first three weeks of school

Published 2:47 pm Saturday, July 31, 2021

After voting to make masks optional for students, faculty and staff within Oxford School District, superintendent Bradley Roberson announced on Saturday that masks will now be required to begin school.

In a letter to the OSD community, Roberson stated he was using the “authority provided by the (OSD school) board and requiring masks for all students and staff beginning Aug. 2 through Aug. 20.

Teachers return to their classrooms on Monday with students starting the 2021-22 school year on Friday. The decision to make masks required the for most of the first month of school is due to other school districts in the state that have already started school and had to alter their learning methods due to COVID-19 outbreaks, according to Roberson.

In Roberson’s letter, he cites Oak Grove High School and Purvis High School transitioned to virtual learning due to school outbreaks after less than 10 days into the new school year. According to Roberson, one OSD group is “on the verge of a shutdown” due to already having two positive cases.

“As education leaders, we have all seen the negative impact last school year has had on student learning which is why an overwhelming majority of districts across our state have been determined to open schools with as much normal school operations as possible,” Roberson’s letter read. “Unfortunately, in recent days we have learned from some of our district friends from around the state who have already started school that a normal return may not provide us with the best opportunity to keep kids in school.”

During the OSD Board of Trustee’s regular meeting on July 26, the board voted 4-1 to adopt the district’s Return to Learn plan which made masks optional, even for those not fully-vaccinated.

The requirement of masks is only for indoor school settings. Outside recess and outdoor extracurricular activities will remain mask optional.

“I hope this will only be for a short period; however, at this time, it provides us the opportunity to keep our kids in school, provide them with the best possible education, and also eliminate the need for quarantines in the classroom setting.”

Last week, the Lafayette County School District announced they were recommending masks be worn by students, faculty and staff members while indoors but were not mandating masks be required at that time. Lafayette Schools start their school year on Thursday.