River Valley Intermediate in Waco issues face mask ‘directive’ for 10 days

COVID-19 cases rise and principal asks community for help
River Valley Intermediate Principal Paul Offill
River Valley Intermediate Principal Paul Offill(You Tube and Facebook)
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 3:15 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - In a You Tube video newsletter, River Valley Intermediate Principal Paul Offill asked the community for help mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and announced his school has asked students and staff to wear face masks for ten days beginning Tuesday, September 7.

“We’ve got some crazy COVID numbers in our campus and we’re going to ask for your help and our student’s help to do some things in our campus to help slow that down,” said Offill.

“We are at a higher percentage than we would like to be and so, beginning Tuesday, we will issue a mask directive and ask that all students and staff wear a mask while inside River Valley for ten days,” the principal said.

The mask directive is supposed to end on September 17. On that date, the school will re-evaluate to determine how it moves forward.

River Valley Intermediate is part of the Midway Independent School District, which had decided not to enforce a mask mandate districtwide.

Offill’s directive is in line with Midway ISD policy, recently outlined in a letter to parents sent by Superintendent George Kazanas.

In that letter, Kazanas said it is “certainly appropriate to directly target clusters of cases with a strong approach such as temporarily closing a classroom or program, temporarily implementing localized mask directives, or urging asymptomatic testing of those near a cluster.”

The superintendent further explained that by “focusing on each case’s unique circumstance, we are careful not to overreach to impact other students, classes and families in an unwarranted way. Most importantly, those who are not affected are able to continue with school instruction and learning as unhindered as possible, in as normal a way as we can while having school amidst a pandemic.”

Offill reminded parents the school’s goal is to always offer face-to-face instruction. “In asking you for help, that is our end goal,” the principal said.

The school is asking parents to please keep their children at home if they are sick. “If you child has symptoms, or fever ... if they’re not feeling good ... we ask that you please keep them home,” Offill said.

The principal said parents will be notified if their child was directly exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.

“We just ask that you follow CDC guidance for quarantining,” Offill said as he reminded parents that the school district is offering a “virtual conferencing” option for students who are quarantining at home.

The principal also asked parents to speak to their children to remind them about keeping their hands to themselves and to wash their hands regularly at school and at home.

“Our students will realize we need their help and they are old enough to be responsible,” he said.

In order to allow for more social distancing, the school will also begin offering two lunch locations.

“Each grade, the lunch will be split in half. Some students will be in the cafeteria and some will be in the sixth grade gym for lunch and that will allow us to provide even more spacing than we were able to do at the beginning of the year,” Offill said.

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