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Birmingham, Bessemer, Fairfield Schools Make Masks Optional

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From left, Fairfield City Schools Superintendent Dr. Regina Thompson; Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan and Bessemer City Schools Superintendent Dr. Autumm Jeter. (Haley Wilson, The Birmingham Times

By Haley Wilson

The Birmingham Times

Beginning April 4, face coverings in the Birmingham, Bessemer, and Fairfield school districts will be optional.

Superintendents from each of the districts, which together educate about 28,000 students, made the announcement on Friday. Because of low COVID-19 numbers in Jefferson County, the administrators said it’s time to adjust guidelines in their districts, following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Together we are committed to academic work,” said Birmingham Superintendent Mark Sullivan, Ed.D. “But we’re also very committed to health and safety. Masks have been required throughout the school year and as superintendents we made these decisions separately…but today we join together to announce that masks will be optional for our districts.”

“We made the decision for masks to be optional after receiving updates from the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH),” said Bessemer Superintendent Autumm Jeter, Ed.D. “We know that they follow the guidance of the Alabama Department of Public Health and the (CDC). A few weeks back those recommendations regarding masks in school and public prices were relaxed.”

“We know that our students learn best in-person,” said Fairfield Superintendent Regina Thompson, Ed.D. “So, we want to continue producing efforts that help our students learn in the best environments. So, we encourage everyone to still practice best safety measures.”

The three districts have maintained mandatory mask practices throughout the school year and taken other safety steps including vaccination clinics for students and employees and voluntary COVID-19 testing in collaboration with the UAB School of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The districts said a joint COVID-19 vaccination clinic will be held at Western Hills Mall next March 24 to ensure that teachers and students are vaccinated before Spring Break.