Our Plan for Masks
February 16, 2022
We have collectively worked together to successfully support the children in our schools throughout the pandemic. The only reliable thing has been the need to change directions frequently. This has required collaboration and flexibility, unlike we have seen at any other time. We are at that juncture again as we outline our plan for masking in the schools now that the state mandate will expire on February 28.
Simultaneously last night, the Concord Board of Health and Joint School Committees discussed mask wearing. The Board of Health voted to immediately lift the town’s mask mandate, so masks are no longer required. Based on my recommendation, given high vaccination rates and low case counts, the Joint School Committees unanimously voted to rescind the face mask policy and make masks optional for all students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 as of March 7, 2022.
The preschool setting was discussed at length prior to and at last night’s meeting. The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Childcare has not released updated guidance since the Governor’s announcement about K-12 schools. The public health officials and I felt that moving more slowly was prudent in the preschool since vaccines are not yet available for the youngest students. As a result, for the time being, masks will be required in preschool classrooms. At upcoming School Committee meetings, we will review the status of these points and ensure we support the preschool staff and families.
Per federal regulation, masks remain a mandate on school buses and in the health offices. Positive COVID individuals will need to mask for five days after returning to school from the five day quarantine period. Unvaccinated students are highly encouraged to mask per DESE and DPH guidance.
We recognize that not all families and students are comfortable with masks becoming optional. It is very important to us to hear those individual questions and talk about how to support you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to a counselor, school nurse, or administrator.
Inclusion and belonging are core values of our schools. As personal choice is afforded to all, it will be critical that we act according to those values by respecting and honoring each individual choice.
Over the past two years, our work together has shown that our greatest strengths are founded on collaboration and community. I am sure this will be the case as we journey into this next phase.
Thank you again for the collective efforts and shared partnership.