On Monday evening at the Board Work Session, we will discuss our Health and Safety Plan. While there are many components to the plan - the greatest issue right now is masking.
A few thoughts on Monday's meeting.
- The good news is we will open school - in-person - on August 30. We will have a normal schedule - this is light-years from where we were a year ago;
- We have a mitigation plan in place that we know works. Most notably there are air purifiers in every classroom and our HVAC system is running at higher rates with new filters. We are getting 6-7 air exchanges an hour – and that is hospital grade air quality;
- Sports are on;
- Vaccination rates for Chester County are high - According to the Chester County Health Department (CCHD) - 75% of those 12 and up have received at least one shot;
- Case numbers are on the rise - according to the CCHD - we are in the moderate transmission rate and on the cusp of substantial;
- So – while we are in a much better position than we were a year ago – it is not as good as in July. With conditions changing rapidly - we have to talk about masking.
A few thoughts on masking:
- Our masking survey had over 3,400 responses: 42.5% want mandated masking; 33.5% want masking optional; and 24% want masking optional for the vaccinated;
- We successfully masked all of last year - but we have all experienced the "freedom" of dropping our masks (and most of us have enjoyed it);
- We will discuss the best way to proceed with safety as our first priority.
The Health and Safety Plan Guiding Principles are:
- Keep everyone safe;
- Provide an excellent educational experience;
- Support students and staff socially and emotionally.
When wearing my private citizen hat - as a vaccinated, healthy, and risk-tolerant individual - making masks optional seems sensible. When wearing my superintendent hat – I must consider the current transmission level in Chester County (updated every Friday) - and right now we are at moderate. Should the case counts continue to rise into the substantial and very high ranges - it will make sense to require masking for all. However, we are going to be making weekly decisions based on data from CCHD including incidents and positivity rates. Every Friday there will be an announcement on mask status for the following week.
So - I am going to recommend to the Board at our meeting on Monday - that we open the year on August 30 using the following masking guidelines:
When the Chester County rate is:
Masking is required on all buses and district transportation as ordered by the CDC.
We are inching closer to pre-COVID life and for that, we are all grateful. We remain diligent in monitoring conditions and taking measures to ensure safety for all. Your understanding and cooperation have made all the difference in the success of our decisions. Thank you.