March 1, 2022
As we move into this next phase of the pandemic, I wanted to provide you an update on where we are with potential shifts in our mask wearing guidance in schools. Prior to the winter break, it was announced by Secretary of Education Dan French, that the guidance that has been in place pertaining to mask wearing in schools, could end effective February 28 when schools reached the 80 percent vaccination rate.
Subsequent to this announcement, the CDC came out with new guidance around mask wearing (individuals can choose not to wear masks) in indoor spaces in counties with low-medium transmission rates. The Vermont Department of Health has yet to adopt this change. As of February 25, Chittenden County’s level was indicated as medium.
As with any guidance change, the Champlain Valley Superintendents have been working collaboratively to evaluate what this change means for our respective districts. When we met February 28, we decided we were largely in agreement. That even if a change was made at the state level later this week, to be in alignment with the CDC or our vaccination data became available, we would not be prepared to make a change to our masking policy immediately. I would want to provide our families and staff with at least a week's notice prior to a change taking affect.
Another factor to consider in SBSD is that the school board made a motion early in the pandemic to require masks and therefore, will need to make a motion to unmask. The board, with three new members, will hold their first post-election meeting March 2 and while this item will be discussed, it is not warned for action. Either a special meeting will need to be held prior to the next regular school board meeting March 16 or the board will take up the item at that time.
While we will continue to mask through this week, I hope to provide you with next steps after I receive guidance from the state and thoughts from the school board. Throughout this pandemic, local doctors have been tremendous advisors to me and our community at large and have generously agreed to join me for my next Zoom Q and A (Meeting ID: 857 9621 4937 Passcode: 501842) March 7 from 6-7 pm to help answer questions from both families and staff.
After we make this transition to a mask optional school and workplace, we anticipate that many SBSD students and staff will continue to wear masks. As a community, we must respect everyone's choice as they weigh their own personal level of risk. Vaccination remains a key mitigation measure and there are many opportunities to get your first, second, or booster dose. In addition, rapid antigen tests will once again be distributed to staff and families this week.
Thank you for your resilience and happy Town Meeting Day!