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West Fargo Schools will no longer use masking as part of its COVID-19 strategy

The school board moved to remove all masking requirements from its strategic document.

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Susan Lenhart trims around the edges of a mask made out of fabric. Special to WDAY
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WEST FARGO — Due to a low number of COVID-19 cases across the West Fargo School District, the West Fargo School Board has decided to remove any requirements to wear masks in buildings as part of its mitigation strategy.

Superintendent Beth Slette said as of Friday, Feb. 25, there were only six positive student cases and one positive staff member case.

At the Monday, Feb. 28 meeting, Board President Jim Jonas said the district COVID-19 cases peaked earlier this year with more than 230 positive student cases and about 70 staff cases.

“We started to see our numbers are decreasing as a system,” Slette said. “We are seeing that the numbers of tests being taken are also decreasing.”

The West Fargo School District move comes just days after the CDC released similar recommendations as COVID-19 case numbers continue to decline nationally.

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The masking requirement required that students and staff wear face coverings while inside, if total active cases accumulated to 4% or more of a school's total population. Face coverings were then required to be worn for 10 calendar days or until case numbers dropped to less than 4%.

Slette said masking is the only change that will be made in the district’s mitigation strategy. The district will continue to provide on-site testing for COVID-19 and the district will consider requiring distance learning if more than 5% of a building’s total population reports active positive cases.

“The entire [strategy] still lays out the process of what the district would do if numbers again climb to levels that are considered very high,” she said.

Assistant Superintendent Rachael Agre said how large a school is and who is tests positive determines what mitigation strategies a school should use.

“It’s interesting because you have to look at who is out with staff,” Agre said.

For example, Horace, the only school to host virtual learning due to high COVID-19 numbers, did so because it is a small school and the majority of those out due to the pandemic were teachers.

A few weeks ago, Harwood Elementary School had reached the 5% threshold but did not have to resort to virtual learning because the cases included a higher mix of staff and students and not just teachers.

“We always ask if you are able to have learner safety if you stay open, and if the answer is yes, we figure it out,” Agre said.

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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