Ann Arbor Public Schools return from winter break on January 9 with a new plan for fighting illnesses. Masks will temporarily be required from January 9-20.
Last year, school returned from winter break virtually due to a surge in COVID cases locally. This year they are seeing a similar surge in a combination of COVID, flu, and other respiratory illnesses.
In the two weeks leading up to winter break, several schools had to close due to insufficient staffing. From what I heard many other schools and classes were operating with significant student absences. My high school student reported 10 students out of her English class a couple of days.
To prevent the disruption to students and families, the district is hoping that a return to masking will help prevent surges and the need to close schools.
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Masks will be available at school for those who need them.
If you no longer have disposable masks, I suggest running out to purchase them soon. A quick check at noon of the Target app shows masks available for purchase at both the Carpenter Rd and Ann Arbor Saline locations. Meijer’s app also shows masks available at Carpenter and Zeeb but not Ann Arbor Saline.
Dr Swift’s Announcement
This is copied from the email that I received as an AAPS parent on January 8, 2023.
Dear AAPS Families, Students and Staff,
We are excited to welcome students and staff back from winter break on Monday.
On further consideration of the disruption caused for families when schools are closed due to illness and absences, and in light of the current health risks for our students and staff, we are updating the AAPS Health Advisory as follows:
Masks are required while indoors in AAPS schools from January 9 – 20.
The Ann Arbor Public Schools will require well-fitting masks to be worn by students, staff and visitors while indoors in AAPS schools, beginning on January 9th and during the first two weeks following the winter break. Extra masks are available at all school buildings for use by students and staff.
During this time of return from travel and social activities, the requirement of masks while indoors at school is a measure to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses and related absenteeism and to prioritize health and in-school learning, particularly at this transition time following the winter break. We all understand the critical importance of our students and staff being present for in-school learning on every day possible.
The CDC continues to state that “masking is a critical public health tool” that is especially effective in preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses in crowded indoor spaces. In December, the CDC encouraged masking in response to the surges in influenza, RSV, and COVID.
Additionally, as a correction to Friday’s message, the bivalent COVID booster is available for youth ages 6 months and up.More detailed information is here.
In addition to wearing masks while indoors, we strongly urge families, students and staff to keep your student(s) home if experiencing respiratory symptoms, fever or vomiting/diarrhea. See When to Keep a Child Home from School Due to Illness.
If your child is diagnosed with RSV, influenza or COVID, please report their case to your school so that we may better understand the illnesses circulating in our AAPS school communities. (For COVID, report the case using this form and follow isolation guidance.)
For support with questions about sending your student to school or any of these illnesses, please contact your health care provider or your school nurse.
As we return to school in this new year 2023, we will continue to closely monitor absence levels and illness each day, and remain in close communication about next steps.
Thank you for your partnership in working together to support our students, staff, schools and this Ann Arbor Public Schools community we share.
Sincerely, Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools