August 31, 2021
Dear BPS Families,
We hope this correspondence finds you well. As our summer programming winds down, we look forward to welcoming back students on Wednesday, September 1.
The purpose of this communication is to inform our families of the current BPS face covering policy. As we open school for the 2021-22 school year, we must continue the requirement for masks for students and staff. On Tuesday, August 24, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education authorized the Commissioner of Education to require masks for public school students and staff in all grades, through at least October 1, 2021. Subsequently, the Barnstable School Committee held a special meeting on Wednesday, August 25, to review the current BPS face covering policy. Through its policy, the School Committee has continued the requirement for masks as required by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. A copy of the School Committee’s policy.
On August 26, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released guidance to school districts regarding the masking requirement. The DESE guidance in its entirety is available here. We have reviewed the state’s guidance and have developed a BPS protocol to share with families. The highlights of the protocol are as follows:
- A face covering that covers the nose and mouth must be worn by all individuals (students, staff, and visitors) inside school buildings and on school transportation unless they have provided a physician’s note documenting an exemption.
- An exemption may be considered for anyone who has a medical, behavioral or other challenge making it unsafe to wear a face mask or face covering. Exemptions to this policy may only be granted with physician documentation of the specific medical, behavioral or other challenge making it unsafe to wear the mask or face covering.
- Face coverings will not be required while eating, drinking, during mask breaks, or at any time outdoors.
Non-exempt students who arrive at school or at a bus stop without a mask will be provided with one. If a non-exempt student does not comply with the masking requirement, the student and parent will be asked to meet with the building principal to discuss the situation. Unexcused, deliberate non-compliance may result in progressive disciplinary action guided by the district’s student discipline policy.
The BPS Steering Committee on Reopening met regularly through 2020-21 and continues to meet to review public health data and recommend protocols for schools. The Steering Committee has discussed, and recommended to the School Committee, public health metrics that could be used to reassess the requirements for masking, based upon COVID-19 community transmission data, vaccination data and consultation with public health and Dr. Rudman. The School Committee has expressed their intent to review the masking requirements on a regular basis. At this time, however, there is no alternative to the masking requirement, given the state mandate.
In closing, we had all hoped for a school year that would signal a return to familiar classroom and school environments. While we are closer, there are still health and safety protocols that we must implement. You have our commitment that we will monitor and reassess our protocols on a regular basis based on federal, state, and local public health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Dr. Kathryn Rudman, our district physician.
We thank you for your continued collaboration, understanding and patience. We look forward to welcoming your children back to school.
Dr. Meg Mayo-Brown, Superintendent of Schools