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Article: January 11 Update

January 11 Update

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Dear Mariemont City Schools Community,
 
As you are aware, managing the COVID-19 pandemic, both in our schools and in our community, continues to be a difficult task. Never did we imagine that nearly two years after its arrival, we would still be facing this pandemic and the many challenges it still presents.
 
As I have shared many times throughout the past two years, I and other district officials, participate in regular conference calls with our local health department to maintain a current understanding of this pandemic and to develop and implement appropriate mitigation strategies for our schools.
 
In our most recent conversation with Hamilton County health officials, their key messages were:
  • The Omicron variant is less severe than the Delta variant, but on par with the original COVID-19 strain.
  • Hospitalization and ER numbers are at their highest volumes since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Vaccines are proving highly effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization. Vaccine with the additional booster are even more effective.
  • Vaccines are available and strongly encouraged for ages 5+. The booster shots are now available and strongly encouraged for ages 12+.
  • Medical-grade, 3-ply masks are most effective in preventing Omicron spread.
 
Similar to what we are seeing throughout the region, state and country, our district is seeing a significant surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. Since returning from winter break, we have seen a 123% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in our student population.
 
In response to this surge, the Board of Education, after lengthy discussion and consideration, implemented a temporary masking requirement for all students, staff and visitors in our buildings during the school day at its regular monthly meeting last evening. This requirement will take effect Wednesday, January 12th and remain through Friday, January 28th. Masking continues to be required on school buses.  Medical grade, 3-ply masks will be available in all of our buildings.
 
The hope is that this temporary masking requirement will allow the surge we our experiencing to decrease and prevent an even greater number of student and staff absences so that we can maintain in-person instruction in our classrooms. Additionally, having all students and staff masked will put the district in a better position to implement and manage masking and quarantine protocols that are required by the Hamilton County Department of Health. You can find these requirements on pages 7-8 of the REBOOT Health and Safety Protocol Guide on the district REBOOT webpage.
 
I want to stress that the district certainly hopes and plans to maintain in-person instruction, however, as we continue to navigate this current surge, we cannot rule out strategic closures by grade level, school building or district. These closures may be necessary in response to COVID-19 clusters and/or staffing shortages, and they may happen relatively quickly. Therefore, I encourage all families to have a contingency plan in place should the need arise.
 
As always, I want to thank you for your continued patience and cooperation. We will communicate again if necessary in the coming days and weeks. Should you have any additional questions, please reach out to your building principal.
 
Sincerely,
 
Steven E. Estepp
Superintendent, Mariemont City Schools

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