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Suburban Omaha school district enacts expanded mask mandate

August 23, 2021 GMT

RALSTON, Neb. (AP) — Students and staff at Ralston’s middle school and high schools in suburban Omaha are now required to wear masks following new cases of COVID-19 in the district, officials announced.

Ralston Public Schools announced the change Sunday, saying the policy applies to staff members and students from seventh- through 12th grades, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Masking will be required through Sept. 16, when district officials will review the policy. Masks will be available at the schools for students who do not have one.

Superintendent Mark Adler said in a letter to parents that the decision was made after three cases were identified in one classroom at the secondary level. The Ralston district was already requiring students, staff and visitors in preschool through sixth grade to wear masks.

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“It has been our goal from the beginning of this pandemic to find a way to keep our students in school,” Adler wrote. “Implementing this additional intervention will help us mitigate the spread and not keep students at home or close a classroom or school.”

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has sharply risen over the past two weeks from more than 374 new cases per day on Aug. 7 to nearly 728 new cases per day on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.