Columbia High 12th Graders Return to Mask Mandate for School & Graduation

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Columbia High School’s 12th graders will finish out the year with mandatory indoor masking, due to a COVID-19 outbreak being experienced post prom.

“The [Department of Health] is requiring that you send your Grade 12 students to school with a mask through June 24, 2022,” wrote Principal Frank Sanchez in an email to families today. “We ask them to stay masked on the bus and indoors at school unless they are actively eating or drinking or are having a mask break. (We also have masks available at school.)”

Sanchez added, “Graduation will also be mask mandated for all staff, students, and families.”

The seniors join Maplewood Middle School students in a return to mask mandates. MMS announced that it was experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and would return to mandatory indoor masking for the remainder of the year in an email to families on June 19.

Village Green learned of both outbreaks through emails to district families. Following a request regarding the MMS outbreak, Supt. Dr. Ronald Taylor noted that mask mandates are listed on the district’s COVID dashboard. However, as of publication, the dashboard has an “N” under “Universal Masking” for CHS, possibly due to the fact that the mask mandate only applies to one grade level.

Following MMS’s return to mandatory masking, Taylor explained that the district does not inform the entire South Orange-Maplewood School District community via email, text or phone regarding outbreaks in order not to overwhelm families with communications: “We would not inundate the entire district with communications that pertain to a specific school. We try to target our communication as we understand the fatigue of families and information overload, especially this time of the year.”

Earlier this spring, both Clinton School and South Mountain Elementary School returned to universal masking due to outbreaks. Both of those mandates have now been lifted.

See the communication to 12th grade families from CHS Principal Frank Sanchez here:

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