The Village School Moves to Masks Optional for K-6 Students Starting March 14th
March 11, 2022
Thank you for your trust and support as we continue to navigate the changing course of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter what has been referred to as the “endemic” stage of the virus, our school has leaned on the recommendations of health experts in determining what changes will best serve our school community. What we have seen from the data has been extremely encouraging. COVID-19 infection rates have dropped significantly in our area; and, most importantly, hospitalization and death rates have also decreased.
Given the downward trend of COVID-19 in our region, we are taking the step forward starting on Monday, March 14, of adopting the state-wide recommendation of the Vermont Agency of Education and Vermont Department of Health to make masks optional for K-6 students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
The mask requirement will not be lifted for the Pre-K students and staff yet. We are continuing to follow the recommendation of the Association of American Physicians (AAP), which advises that 2- to 5-year-olds should continue to remain masked indoors, as they are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and are, therefore, still considered a vulnerable population.
Importantly, all students and staff will still have the option of wearing a mask at school, and we encourage anyone who wishes to wear a mask to please continue doing so. We know some of our students have younger siblings who cannot be vaccinated at this time and that some students may have immune-compromised family members. Others simply may not be ready to make the change, as this is a massive change. For some, there will be the anxiety and worry that come with change. We will all need to be respectful of and understanding of the personal choice to remain masked. If you would like your student(s) to continue to wear a mask at school, please notify your student’s teacher so that we can help support your family’s choice.
Our school is still following a stay-home-when-sick policy, and this means that students who are sick should stay home, and if students present with symptoms while at school, they will be sent home. If your student has allergies and you do not have a doctor’s note on file, please provide the school with one. If students are sent to the nurse with potential symptoms, they will be asked to wear a mask in the nurse’s office.
As we move toward the “new normal,” it is expected that many of us will have mixed feelings about the changes and practices we have become accustomed to during COVID-19 times. We will remain committed to listening to health professionals and utilizing a thoughtful approach for the implementation of our safety protocols to include the use of layered mitigation strategies and making appropriate adjustments to account for the changing conditions of the pandemic.
Our school will maintain many of our mitigation factors that have helped combat the spread of illness, with a continued focus on handwashing and hand sanitizing, respiratory etiquette, ventilation, cleaning, and disinfection measures. We will also continue to utilize the “Test to Stay” and “Test at Home” programs, as needed.
In the weeks and months ahead, we will monitor positivity rates for COVID-19 and make appropriate adjustments to ensure the safety of our school community. In the event of a positive COVID-19 case in a classroom or a change in the status of COVID-19 within our region, we may need to adjust our masking protocol temporarily.
Even though the lifting of the mask mandate does not mean the pandemic is over, I am cautiously optimistic that we are headed in the right direction. I again want to reiterate my heartfelt gratitude for the partnership we have with our students, families, teachers, and staff. We greatly look forward to seeing your children’s smiling faces in the days and weeks ahead.
Children are at the heart of all we do. We nurture a child's curiosity, ignite enthusiasm for exploring, develop tools for inquiry, for invention, for achievement. We welcome families into a community-wide collaboration to help our children grow into their best selves - responsible citizens and stewards of the greater world, makers of the future.