School District Lifts Indoor Mask Mandate, But It Could Be Reinstated

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said that the County’s improving COVID-19 situation led to the recommendation to lift the indoor mask mandate in schools.

Anticipating low Covid-19 activity in the Township and Somerset County, the Board of Education on March 17 voted to remove the mandatory indoor mask mandate as of March 21.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said at the meeting that the mandate was being lifted because data showed “a drastic reduction in the variables that influence local CALI scores, such as the number of cases per 100,000, the percent of Covid-like illness in our area and percent of Covid-positive cases in our area,.”

CALI stands for Covid-19 Activity Level Index. It is calculated weekly by the state Department of Health for the five regions in the state: northwest, northeast, central west, central east and southeast. Somerset County is included in the central west region.

The district’s policy approved at the March 17 meeting says that whenever the CALI rating for Somerset County is “good” or “moderate,” and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rate Somerset County as “low,” “Franklin Township Public Schools will no longer mandate the use of face masks by staff, students, and visitors in the indoor portion of the school district premises or on school buses and vans.”

However, “(s)hould Somerset County be considered to be in the high risk category or very high risk category of the COVID-19 Activity Level as published by the Somerset County Department of Health or have a COVID-19 Community Level of moderate/yellow or high/orange as published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the mandatory mask requirement will be reinstated as soon as practicably possible.”

“The district administration will provide notice to the school community as soon as practicably possible,” the policy states.

“Additionally, should extenuating circumstances, as determined by the district in conjunction with the local health department warrant, Franklin Township Public Schools may reinstate the mandatory wearing of masks by staff, students, and visitors in the indoor portion of the school district premises and on all school buses and vans,” the policy states.

Ravally said the usual preventive measures of “social distancing, contact tracing, quarantining, and testing” will still be in effect.

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