Mask Friendly Learning Environment

In February 2022 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Riley released an update stating that the statewide school mask mandate will end on Monday, February 28th for students and staff in grades K-12, vaccinated and unvaccinated. Based on local health metrics, high staff and student vaccination rates, the availability of symptomatic and at home testing, and the continued priority the Needham Public Schools places on maintaining healthy schools, our Joint Committee on Health and Safety recommended that the NPS implement a mask friendly learning environment for all K-12 students and staff.

 

The Joint Committee on Health and Safety has met regularly since the summer of 2020 and has provided advice and guidance to the Superintendent to ensure the safe and healthy operations of the Needham Public Schools during the pandemic. Through the evaluation of medical and public health data; setting standards for the safe operation of schools; and recommending various health protocols and procedures, we have been able to keep our schools open for learning since the fall of 2020.

 

A mask friendly environment recognizes and respects all our students and staff. Depending on their individual and family health risks and needs, students and staff can choose whether to wear a mask or not while in the school buildings. The district will reinforce personal choice and the importance of supporting those whose decisions differ from others. Masks must still be worn in school health offices.

 

Staff share developmentally appropriate lessons, protocols, and announcements to explain how we act as a school community where some decide to wear a mask and others do not. Families are encouraged to engage in conversations with their children to determine their mask preferences.

 

The Joint Committee on Health and Safety will continue to advise the Superintendent about any health and safety concerns related to COVID and will, if circumstances warrant, recommend adjustments to health protocols, including a return to masking.
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