Back to School FAQ
What PK-8 health and safety protocols are being recommended now by health experts and key decision-makers in light of the Delta variant of the virus?
Here is a timeline and summary of the most recent guidance issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) and elected and appointed State officials:
- 07-19-2021: American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a “layered approach to make school safe for all students, teachers, and staff.” The AAP’s guidance “includes a recommendation that everyone older than age 2 wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.”
- 07-27-2021: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest a return to indoor mask-wearing in this CDC guidance, stating that the “CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
- 07-30-2021: In collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH), the Commissioner of Education released this new guidance for PK-12 public schools. Governor Baker spoke in support of the Commissioner’s recommendation later in the day.
- 08-09-2021: The Sudbury School Committee voted to amend School Committee Policy EBCFA: Face Coverings. This policy establishes that “a face covering that covers the nose and mouth must be worn by all individuals in school buildings, on school grounds and on school transportation, even when social distancing is observed.” The August 9th update allows the Superintendent of Schools discretion over whether “to suspend or enforce [the policy] as necessary based upon local health information and advisories.”
- 08-10-2021: Sudbury Board of Health advised that all individuals aged two years and above wear face coverings in all indoor spaces, public or private (open to the public), including but not limited to the following: public buildings; schools and private childcare facilities; retail stores; retail food stores; food establishments and bars until the customer is seated; Fitness centers/health clubs, dance studios, and all recreational facilities; Houses of worship; personal service establishments such as barber shops and hair and nail salons allowing for temporary removal during service.
The guidance from the AAP, the CDC, and the MA DPH is inconsistent. What are the health and safety rules that SPS will follow in the upcoming school year?
Governor Baker noted that Massachusetts has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, which may account for the variation in the approach to back to school guidance. Sudbury Public Schools have consistently followed the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); in an effort to avoid confusion and keep students in school, we will continue to do so. The simplest way to frame the health and safety protocols and expectations for the upcoming school year is this—SPS will start the school year the same way we ended it:
- Masks are required for all students and staff, vaccinated or unvaccinated, when indoors and on school buses.
- Physical distancing will be required while eating indoors and during defined activities.
- Outdoors is still the safest place to be! No masking or physical distancing is required when outdoors.
We understand that staying up-to-date on the latest guidance can be a challenge. To help you understand DESE's current COVID guidelines, please take a few moments to watch this brief video.