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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – The largest school district in Jefferson County starts a new district-wide mask mandate Thursday morning, but it’s not scheduled to last for long.

 The Fox C-6 school board approved returning to a mask mandate as COVID cases in Jefferson County hit record highs. A district spokesperson said the surge in COVID cases prompted the move by the board earlier this week.

Like many other districts, Fox C-6 started the school year with a mask mandate, but that requirement was relaxed in November. School board members on Tuesday night decided to reinstate a mask mandate from Thursday through Friday, January 21. Under the requirement, all students, staff, and visitors must wear a mask while inside district buildings. After January 21, the district plans to return to masks being strongly recommended unless a particular school surpasses a two percent COVID positivity rate for students and staff. In those cases, masks must be worn for 14 days at the impacted school. Nine schools in the Fox C-6 district were already under the 14-day mask requirement when the board reimplemented the mask mandate. Those schools, which essentially amount to half of the district, must finish the two-week masking period.

This all comes as new weekly COVID figures were released Wednesday by the Jefferson County Health Department. Those numbers show a total of 2,806 new confirmed and probable COVID cases in Jefferson County. That’s the highest weekly case count that Jefferson County has had during the entire pandemic. Of those new cases, nearly 63 percent are unvaccinated, almost 31 percent are fully vaccinated, and about 6.5 percent are fully vaccinated and boosted. The COVID positivity rate for Jefferson County is now almost 35 percent.