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Jackson Public Schools to require masks after hundreds of students are forced to quarantine


The Jackson Public School District is issuing a mask mandate after hundreds of students may have been exposed to COVID-19.

A policy that takes effect after Labor Day will require everyone to wear face coverings inside school buildings regardless of their vaccination status. Previously, masks were optional everywhere besides buses.

The district made the change because nearly 9% of the student body is quarantining after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, Superintendent Jeff Beal said.

"We really want to see them face to face," Beal said. "We want them in school. And that's the the real reason we implemented the mask mandate"

More than 400 students were in isolation as of Thursday, according to the district's dashboard. Ten students, less than a tenth of a percent of the student body, had active COVID cases.

Students get virtual assignments while they're in isolation, but widespread quarantining is disrupting classes, Beal said.

“With that many students out of school for an extended period of time it simply becomes intractable for us to continue to provide the level of learning that we know our students need," Beal said.

The district's mask mandate will continue at least through September.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking at schools.