An Important Update about Mask Wearing Requirements


Last week, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced statewide mask requirements for K-12 schools will be lifted on February 28. Brookwood’s Health and Safety Taskforce reviewed our current vaccination rates (82% for students and 95% for employees) and the DESE mask recommendations, and has developed phases of adjusting our COVID-19 protocols and mandates.


On February 28, we are joining Commonwealth schools in going mask optional. Mask optional does not mean mask prohibitive, and we are keen to create a supportive environment for students and employees who choose to wear a mask. During the past two years, the impact of COVID-19 has caused a strain on their social-emotional well-being. We are relieved to be in a place where we can begin to evolve our COVID-19 restrictions on our path to managing COVID-19 within our community. In addition to becoming mask optional, we are also making changes to our policies regarding parent visitors.


The move to a mask optional environment is nuanced and includes situations when masks may be needed at school. We ask for your flexibility and support. We also ask everyone to recognize that each of us approaches this long-anticipated target with some combination of joy, relief, reservation, or unease. Many of our students and faculty will choose to continue to wear masks during the school day, while others will want to be mask-free as much as possible. We will model and support both decisions. As families, the decision about masking may require a conversation about your expectations with your children. Teachers will nurture a supportive environment, but parents and guardians will have the responsibility for setting and enforcing masking expectations with their children.


Pack A Cache of Masks

While masks will become optional, we ask that students and employees still bring masks to school every day, as there will be certain scenarios where masks will be needed:

  • All students and employees will need to mask for any large indoor gatherings

  • Masks will still be required for indoor Buddies activities

  • Masking continues to be required on all school buses, per federal order

  • Any individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to wear a mask indoors/outdoors once returning to school from days 6 - 10

  • Anyone who presents with symptoms at school and is waiting to be picked up will be required to be masked

  • In alignment with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), masks are required for all student athletes and coaches during indoor events

  • Per state guidelines, it is highly recommended that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear masks indoors

  • We will continue to assess our data and will not hesitate to reinstate masks on campus if we feel it is necessary


Vaccinations are the best protection against COVID-19; if your child is eligible, we strongly encourage you to get vaccinated. ​​We also recently adopted a newly launched at-home testing program for students and educators. These testing options will remain in place.


Timeline

Health and Safety Measure

Date

7th & 8th grade parent spectators invited for indoor athletics

February 14

Masks become optional for students and employees

February 28

Parents are invited back into the building (with masks)

March 28

Masks are required for visitors

Until further notice

Weekly Pool Testing

Until further notice

Large Gatherings (students and employees) will remain outside, weather permitting

Until further notice

Large Gatherings (with visitors) will remain outside

Until further notice


An Invitation

It’s been two years since parents have been in the building, and we invite you to join us at an optional Zoom meeting on March 23 at 7:00 p.m. to learn more about our health and safety protocols for parent visitors. Parents will have opportunities to post questions in the chat during the meeting, but we invite you to send your questions in advance so that we can address those most frequently asked questions in our initial comments. Please reach out if you have any questions in the meantime.


With spring getting ever-closer and this significant step towards a more normal school life within this pandemic, I am really excited for next term. We are planning lots of events which I hope will not only honor many of our school traditions but will also enable us to collectively share, in person, our students’ joy while experiencing all that comes with warm weather at Brookwood.


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