Updated Health and Safety Plan - August 19, 2021
The following letter from Superintendent Dr. Michael Loughead was sent to the Hampton School Community on Thursday, August 19, 2021, regarding the District's Health and Safety Plan:
Dear Hampton Families:
As you are aware, an updated Health and Safety Plan was approved at the August 9th School Board meeting that requires students, staff and visitors at the K-6 level to wear masks indoors. In addition, the plan indicated that should Allegheny County move into the "HIGH" community transmission level, then the District would also consider requiring masks indoors for students, staff and visitors at the 7-12 grade levels.
Unfortunately, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has confirmed that our county is in the "HIGH" community transmission level with 108.63 cases per 100,000 residents during the 7-day period of August 11-17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When the Health and Safety Plan was approved on August 9th, Allegheny County was in the "SUBSTANTIAL" community transmission level with 92.68 cases per 100,000 residents during the 7-day period of August 1-7. The ACHD continues to report an upward trend of COVID-19 cases in our region as we approach the start of school.
Additionally, the CDC is reporting the following 7-day trends for Allegheny County:
- 142 new hospital admissions - 67.06% change (data through 8/16/21)
- 10 new deaths - 233.33% change (data through 8/17/21)
- 5.48% positivity rate - 0.23% change (data through 8/15/21)
During a recent video conference with Dr. LuAnn Brink, Chief Epidemiologist at the ACHD, and superintendents in Allegheny County, Dr. John Williams, the Division Chief of Infectious Diseases at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, confirmed that he is strongly recommending masking of both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in our schools as is presently recommended by the ACHD and the CDC under current conditions in our region.
Dr. Brink reported that 111 children ages 0-17 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and fewer than five have died since reporting began in 2020. Further, Dr. Williams emphasized that hospitalizations among children in Allegheny County have increased in recent weeks due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Therefore, due to the changing COVID-19 conditions in Allegheny County, we are proposing that our Health and Safety Plan be updated to include required masking indoors for students, staff and visitors in grades K-12. Based on guidance and information from Dr. Brink, the ACHD, and Dr. Williams, we believe this will provide additional protection to our students, staff and visitors in our schools - which is our top priority.
Additionally, we are confident that this plan will contribute to our focus on providing uninterrupted in-person instruction for our students with reduced quarantine requirements. Under current CDC guidelines, and with the support of the ACHD, students who correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks in the event of an exposure to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, and who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student, would not be required to quarantine. This would apply to students who are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
As always, we will continue to consult with the ACHD to monitor levels of community transmission that may affect the District's COVID-19 mitigation and masking policies in the future. Should Allegheny County return to "MODERATE" or "LOW" levels of community transmission, then the District would promptly reconsider our masking and COVID-19 mitigation policies.
Please remember that under a federal order issued in January 2021, the CDC requires face coverings when on public transportation - regardless of vaccination status. This order, which remains in effect, includes on school buses operated by public and private school systems. However, a driver does not need to wear a face covering if they are the only person on the bus.
Finally, a special School Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 24th at 7 p.m. in the Middle School auditorium to consider the above-described update to the District's Health and Safety Plan.
We appreciate your support as we carefully adjust our Health and Safety Plan to changing COVID-19 conditions in our region. We recognize that the first day of school is just a week away, and we want to welcome all of our students back to school with a Health and Safety Plan that safely promotes and sustains in-person instruction.
Dr. Michael R. Loughead
Hampton Township School District
- Health & Safety