By Scott Calzolaio
Mendon-Upton School District is ready to become “mask flexible” starting March 7.
Superintendent Maureen Cohen said that all schools will soon be changing any “Mask Mandate” signage to “Mask-Flexible,” or optional.
Masks will also become optional on school transportation.
As vaccination numbers trend up, and case numbers down, schools across Massachusetts have already dropped the masks starting February 28.
During the February 28 School Committee meeting, a few parents spoke about their disappointment that the masks were not dropped that day, with most of the state. Others voiced the opposite, stating it’s still too soon.
Though Cohen could not directly respond to them due to meeting protocol, she did acknowledge the frustration of both parties.
“I do understand and I really recognize the frustration from people that this didn’t happen today,” she said. “I’m trying to go glass half full, because it’s allowing us to meet with students, and to communicate with families.”
She said that those couple extra days have been helpful as an administrator.
“I know that we’re all going to be there and I can’t wait to see all the faces of our students,” she said.
Mendon-Upton School Committee voted to wait an additional week after February vacation before pulling back mandates, in case there was a spike during the break.
Common-sense protocols are still in place – If a student is sick, keep them home.
The schools are still regularly replacing air filtration, cleaning and disinfecting daily, and keeping windows open when possible, as per DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) Guidelines and Protocols.
In the case of another surge in Covid cases, Cohen said the School Committee and administrators would have to analyze and assess the severity of the situation before re-implementing any mask mandates, in addition to following DESE guidance.
Daily tracking will continue to take place, as well as pool testing. Resources for students and families to get the vaccine or a booster are also available at the health office, as well N-95 masks for any staff member that requests one.
Students and staff are encouraged to keep a mask on their person at all times regardless if they plan to wear it or not.
Masks will still be required in health offices, and up to 10 days after a positive test.
Those who are still unvaccinated, or are immunocompromised are strongly encouraged by school administrators to continue wearing a mask.
Cohen also reminded the public to be respectful of the choices of others during this transition.
Information will be sent out to parents via email before masks become optional in schools.