County to Schools: Masks Needed by All When Indoors
NORRISTOWN PA – Just as the coronavirus continues to change, so too does local officials’ advice to fight it. Montgomery County’s Office of Public Health told county school district superintendents Thursday (July 29, 2021) it “now recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status” or community transmission levels.
Two days earlier, on Tuesday (July 27), the office had indicated indoor mask-wearing by all during the 2021-2022 academic year would be necessary only when virus infections reached beyond “substantial” limit levels for those already vaccinated, and beyond “moderate” levels for those not vaccinated.
The new advisory reflects updated guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the virus’ dangerous “Delta” variant rages across the nation and claims an increasing number of victims. Researchers now consider Delta more contagious than the common cold, and to carry a greater risk of hospitalization and death for older age groups.
The county Thursday also released new guidance for the general public that provides both indoor and outdoor masking recommendations for residents and businesses, as well as for people who are immunocompromised or those with an increased risk of disease.
- Find the new recommendations for schools, covering teachers, staff, students, and visitors here; and
- Recommendations for the general public and immunocompromised here.
Local schools’ latest community transmission rates
The county continues to categorize community virus transmission rates in four levels – low, moderate, substantial, and high – as seen in the Office of Public Health graphic above.
The most recent statistics available, updated as of July 22 (Thursday), show incidence (case) rates and 14-day positivity percentages for these school districts within the county:
- Pottsgrove, 4.63 incidence rate, 1.03 percent positivity, low level;
- Pottstown, 4.41 incidence rate, 1.69 percent positivity, low;
- Spring-Ford Area, 19.05 incidence rate, 3.01 percent positivity, moderate;
- Perkiomen Valley, 7.66 incidence rate, 1.69 percent positivity, low;
- Upper Perkiomen Valley, 14.55 incidence rate, 3.18 percent positivity, moderate; and
- Boyertown, 11.23 incidence rate, 2.78 percent positivity, moderate.
“Vaccination is the most important public health action to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” the office said, and strongly urged all county residents to consider getting vaccinated. “The COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and they also help reduce the spread of the virus in communities,” it added.
The county offers several vaccine clinics, easily reached and nearby, at no cost to residents. Find a list of them here.