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District Covid Email Update: May 19, 2021

District COVID Guidelines Update

May 19, 2021

 

Hi Folks,

 

As you may be aware, on Monday May 17, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Baker issued revised State guidance for COVID safety, which eliminated some of the restrictions around mask requirements.   

 

We thank you for your patience in allowing us to carefully review this latest updated guidance and the Dept of Education FAQ’s that followed.  DPS Health Services Director Gail Kelley and I were able to meet yesterday with the Dedham Health Department to ensure that the State guidance was able to be safely applied to our community and schools.   Following the approval this evening from the Dedham School Committee, we are now able to provide the following updated COVID-19 guidelines for the Dedham Public Schools staff and students.

 

The guidelines below will be effective immediately for all Dedham Public Schools: 

 

INDOORS - SCHOOL & CLASSROOMS

  • At this time, adults and students MUST continue to wear masks at all times while indoors in all Dedham Public Schools except when eating or drinking at least six feet apart.
  • Students may now share classroom materials, including books, items for physical education, or art supplies.  Materials and supplies no longer need to be disinfected between shared uses.

OUTDOORS

  • Students will no longer be required to wear masks when outdoors for recess, physical education, sports or outdoor learning time, even when social distance cannot be maintained.
  • Staff will be required to wear masks outdoors ONLY in the situations and settings where they cannot maintain 3ft of distance from students and others.  If appropriate distance can be maintained, they may remove their mask.

In light of this updated guidance and easing of restrictions for outdoor mask wearing and the improving spring weather, our schools will continue actively seeking ways to utilize outdoor space whenever possible, for lunches, mask breaks and learning opportunities.

 

SCHOOL BUSES

Students and bus drivers will still be required to wear masks while riding the school bus.

 

ATHLETICS

Following the updated State guidance, the MIAA also released updated guidance for youth and school athletics.  Effectively immediately, no masks are required for:

  • Spring sports teams in active play outdoors
  • Athletes when they are on the bench or in a dugout 
  • Athletes in designated “low-risk” indoor sports where a distance of at least 14 feet or more is consistently maintained between each participant
  • Spectators and chaperones, coaches, staff, referees, umpires and other officials who can social distance while outdoors
  • Masks are still required for visitors, spectators, volunteers, and staff while indoors, including locker rooms.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

With this new guidance, limits on outdoor gatherings for school events will be lifted starting May 29, 2021.   

DHS is currently reviewing this updated guidance with respect to its implications for the outdoor graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 on June 5th, and will communicate any changes accordingly. 

All other DPS events, including school year-end celebrations and promotion/moving up ceremonies will be allowed, provided they comply with State and DESE regulations with respect to masking indoors, distancing as needed and other continued safety measures.  

Whenever possible, schools will be encouraged to hold year-end celebration events outdoors, so that masks would not be required.

 

DPS will continue to work with our educators and school administrators in response to these new guidelines and how they will apply to specific events, situations and school settings. More information and details will be shared both Districtwide and by individual schools as appropriate.

 

SCHOOL CLEANING

According to CDC and DESE guidance, schools now only need to clean high touch surfaces (door handles, bus seats, drinking fountains) and shared objects within the school and on school transport vehicles once per day, excluding certain circumstances such as positive case identification.

  • Areas where masks are not being actively worn, including lunch rooms, will continue to be cleaned between uses by Dedham staff.
  • If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID, any areas where they have been in the school or classroom will be cleaned and disinfected. 

 

TESTING AND STUDENT COVID VACCINES

Dedham Public Schools will continue to conduct COVID Pooled Testing through the end of the school year in all our schools.  If your child is not currently participating in testing, they can still register to participate.  More information is available at www.dedham.k12.ma.us/covid.

 

As of Wednesday, May 12th, the Pfizer COVID vaccine has been approved for use by young people, including ages 12 and above.  We urge all parents to review yesterday’s DESE and MA DPH Student COVID Vaccine memo and get your child(ren) vaccinated as soon as possible. The COVID vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective and we join state officials and health leaders in urging parents to get their children vaccinated. The choice to vaccinate your child is voluntary, but we do ask that if you choose to have your child vaccinated, please provide updated vaccination information to the student’s school nurse for our records.

 

As always, if you would prefer your student continues wearing a mask while outdoors despite this week’s new guidance, we support your decision.  Please be sure to alert your student’s classroom teacher so they are aware of your preference.  If you have questions or concerns regarding the updated mask guidance, testing or vaccines, we encourage you to please reach out to your school principal or school nurse directly.

 

Thank you for your continued patience and support of the Dedham Public Schools.

 

All my best,

 

Mike Welch

Superintendent