February 17, 2022
Dear Gloucester Families,
We are about to take a big step towards greater normalcy in our schools and your student’s daily lives.
Last night the School Committee voted to make mask wearing optional in school and at school functions. Starting on Monday, February 28, families, students, and staff can choose whether or not to wear a mask.
Here’s the Summary
Masks are optional starting the day we get back from February vacation.
Masks will remain mandatory on all school buses and transportation due to the Federal order. If your child takes a bus or a van to school, please continue to provide them with a mask every morning.
We will strongly recommend and communicate repeatedly that anyone who returns after being positive with COVID should wear a mask for five days after they return to school.
If COVID cases go up significantly in a class, classrooms, grade level or school, we have the ability to require masks for a short period of time.
This is a big shift and great news on so many levels. We are making another step towards normalcy after two years of upheaval. Our kindergarteners and 1st graders have never known school without masks. High school students and teachers will be able to see smiles and laughs in the hallways again. Our teachers will be able to meet in person and see each other’s faces.
At the same time, I’m thinking about the students and staff who are anxious about this change; those who are themselves immunocompromised or have folks at home susceptible to illness; and those who just wanted more time. This shift will be harder for some than others.
I worry about those who wear masks taking out their concerns on those who choose not to. And I also worry about students who don’t want masks pressuring others to take them off in subtle ways and not so subtle ways.
To help support this shift, we are asking parents to partner with us to help all students understand and value each other's personal choice on the matter of masks. We understand that students and staff have faced enormous challenges over the past two years, and it is our hope that as mask wearing becomes optional, we will all recognize that the change will occur for individual students and families at a different pace and for different reasons.
For some, a decision to remain masked in school may be due to a specific health related situation within their family or for others it may be a preference to take it more slowly. Whatever an individual’s reason, it is the expectation that we will honor their choice and we will accept their decision. I urge you to take an opportunity to talk with your child and reinforce the need to allow and encourage others to make the choice that best fits for them.
This is what we will continue to do to keep students, staff, and families safe
At Home Testing - we have communicated with families to hold off on testing tomorrow and test instead at the end of break before returning to school
Increase Enrollment in Testing - We will continue our efforts to get more students and staff registered for the weekly in school and at home testing. If you want your child to be able to test twice weekly to ensure they don’t have COVID, please go here to learn more.
Vaccinations - We will continue to let families know about vax clinics. With the Gloucester Department of Health, we will be hosting booster and vax clinics for students and staff starting the week of February 28
Monitor and Respond - We will continue to monitor all cases as they happen. We will also look every week at the local wastewater and COVID data. If we see cases increasing in a class, grade, or school we will consult with state experts. If necessary, we will respond to help curb any increase in school cases.
If you have any questions about mask wearing, please reach out to your school principal, school nurse, guidance counselor or a teacher.
I continue to be deeply grateful for our students, staff and families. We have all persevered for two years through unending changes. This important step towards normalcy will go well as long as we continue to support each other and work together.
Have a fabulous break.
Gloucester Public Schools