Comet Family Update

Comet Family Update
Posted on 08/04/2021

9/3/2021 Update

Watch Superintendent's September Video Message

This month, Superintendent Jonathan Cooper shares Mason City Schools focus on our #CometCulture belief "Build MeaningfulRelationships" - highlighting ways that our youngest learners do this at MECC, and how the middle school's new Comet Crew time devotes time each day to relationship-building as part of efforts to make big schools feel small. Mr. Cooper also explains how the MMS September focus of Persistence is also employed by school leaders as we all learn to live with COVID-19 and  keep healthy kids at school, and sick kids at home. Finally, he shares his own personal #COMETScommit challenge for September.

MCS Communication Cadence

We heard from families last year that you appreciated our regular rhythm of communication, but that sometimes it could be overwhelming to have so many emails in your inbox. This year, each week you will receive your principal's weekly Mason Connects Me email on Friday. On the first Friday of the month, you will receive a district update that includes a video message from Superintendent Jonathan Cooper, updates, and highlights about what's coming in the month ahead. Of course, we will continue to share specific updates that impact our Comet Community through email and social media, and in an emergency will also utilize phone calls and text messaging. If you have ideas on how we can communicate more effectively, please share with Public Information Officer Tracey Carson @ carsont@masonohioschools.com

#COMETScommit

Each month, MCS staff participate in Comet Circles - a caring, connected community as part of our district's effort to grow an inclusive, positive and engaging culture where everyone belongs. We invite your Family Circle to join the movement with a family challenge!

In September, we encourage you to consider ways you can "Invest in your own family." What will your family do to care for each other for the next 30 days? Share your commitments with the hashtag #COMETScommit. We will have a mid-month check-in on Facebook and Twitter!

COVID Update

This year, we have upgraded our COVID-19 dashboard to make it more transparent by sharing real-time data, and noting the current positive cases of COVID-19 and quarantines along with the cumulative numbers since school began. When looking at the dashboard, the pie charts on the left are current numbers of cases, and the bar charts and tables on the right are cumulative.  

Click here for information on the quarantine process for a school exposure.

Click here for information on the quarantine process for a community exposure.

8/3/2021 Update
There is a lot of preparation happening behind the scenes to ensure a safe and successful 2021-2022 school year. From the teachers who are currently prepping their classrooms, to the mechanics in the bus garage who are prepping our buses, our district is a hive of activity!


Watch Superintendent Jonathan Cooper explain how our Comet Culture impacts how we care for each other, and how masking helps keep kids safe and in school.

We shared communication last week about our safety protocols for the coming year. View a summary of many of the 2021-2022 safety protocols.  Below are common questions from our families and the public. As we have learned throughout the pandemic, we must adjust and adapt as circumstances change, and we will no doubt do so again this year if needed. 
 

How are you making your decisions about returning to school?

After 18 months of in-person education during the pandemic, we have many practices in place that will serve us well again. Our Comets’ efforts to wear masks, social distance when possible, stay home when sick, and practice regular hand-washing are important for keeping our learning community healthy and in school. 

Last year, our school district was able to stay in school all year because we leaned on our local public health partners’ guidance, and relied heavily on collecting and analyzing local data. We are doing the same thing this year. 

Our health department partners have shared that over the last 14 days, there have been 44 individuals under the age of 18 (out of about 60,000) who have reported a positive COVID case in the county. There are 5 individuals (out of about 240,000) who have been hospitalized in the county, all of whom are between the ages of 40 and 70. Over 90% of MCS staff have been vaccinated, and the population making up the Mason City School District has the highest vaccine rate in the county. This summer, during our extended school year program and in school-sponsored activities and athletics, we have not had any positive reported cases of COVID among MCS students or staff. 

We will continue to closely monitor our community’s transmission rates, our student and staff’s positivity rates and the severity of cases, and the number of quarantines which cause students to be absent even when they feel healthy. If data trends determine we need to make changes to any of our practices and guidelines (like mask recommendations) we will adjust. 

How will the quarantine rules work for next year, especially if someone isn’t wearing a mask?

The Warren County Health Department is responsible for quarantining individuals who have come into close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with an individual who is positive for COVID-19. Mason City Schools assists the Health Department to conduct contact tracing. 

Wearing a mask helps keep your child in school, and your neighbor’s child in school, since unvaccinated students who are not wearing a mask face a much greater risk of quarantine if they are exposed to a positive case of COVID. Students who are not wearing a mask also risk sending other students home to quarantine (even if their classmate is wearing a mask.) 

If all contacts are wearing masks, they will not need to quarantine. In addition, anyone who is fully vaccinated will not be quarantined, even if they are not wearing a mask. The district will email and call students' families who are close contacts and are required to quarantine. Additionally, MCS will send a low-risk exposure letter to all classes, buses and extracurricular activities associated with the positive person. 

Students who have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 have the option of quarantining for 14 days, 10 days or 7 days with proof of a negative test on Day 5, 6, or 7.  Fully vaccinated students who have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 will not need to quarantine if they show proof of vaccination.

My teen has been vaccinated. Do they still need to quarantine if they are exposed to a positive case of COVID-19?

According to the Health Department, anyone who is fully vaccinated will not be quarantined, even if they are not wearing a mask. Fully vaccinated students who have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 will need to show proof of vaccination in order to avoid quarantine.

What does “masks strongly recommended” actually mean?

It is important that we remain vigilant with what we are doing to protect students, and to do everything we can to keep them healthy and in school. The Ohio Department of Health and our local public health partners have strongly recommended masks be worn inside schools. While the guidance acknowledges that children are less likely to become severely ill from COVID-19, it noted they can still get sick, spread the virus to others and suffer health issues. The Mason City School District is leaning on this guidance and also strongly recommends that masks be worn while inside schools. Students must wear masks while on the bus due to a federal mandate.

Things to Note

All Mason City Schools offices will be closed on Tuesday, August 10th from 8:45AM -10:15AM while our staff comes together for an opening day convocation. Your educators are eager to see you during the Wednesday, August 11 family orientation day. Also, check out our Back To School headquarters for calendars, handbooks and more important information. 

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