G-P1. COVID Procedure - Wearing of Face Coverings
The purpose of this document is to establish consistent procedures throughout the Essex Westford School District regarding the wearing of face masks. As of Saturday, August 1, 2020, Vermonters and visitors are required to wear masks or cloth facial coverings over their nose and mouth any time they are in public spaces, indoors or outdoors, where they come in contact with others from outside their households, especially in congregate settings, and where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet.
Our school buildings and grounds are public spaces. Aligning with the Governor’s order, we are requiring facial coverings while in the building. When outside on our grounds, if adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained, face masks are required. Face masks are required on school buses and public transportation.
Facial coverings may be removed during outdoor activities where students and staff can maintain physical distancing and have ready access to put them back on as needed when activity stops.
There are some masks that are not appropriate for use at school. These include gaiters, bandanas, ball cap shields, and masks with respiratory valves. If a student wears one of these masks, they will be given an appropriate school one to replace it.
It is EWSD’s responsibility to work with families to assist our students in wearing facial coverings in school. As we know from science, this protects them as well as others around them. We will be proactive in teaching the reasons to wear a face mask.
When students who are able to wear masks do not comply with staff requests to wear their masks consistently and appropriately, administrators will intervene to correct the behavior in developmentally responsive ways that may start with redirection and go as far as to send students home until they are in compliance with masking expectations. All conversations will begin with education about why masks are essential and required and families will be notified and included in the conversation.
If students are repeatedly out of compliance with masking expectations, school administrators may need to go so far as to remove the option of in-person learning and move a student to the remote learning platform on a longer-term basis. The health and safety of other students, staff, and our community requires student compliance with masking expectations.
While cloth face coverings are required, to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we recognize there are students or adults who have a medical or mental health reason for not wearing a facial covering.
In these incidences, they will not be required to wear one as long as there is documentation and our nurses have an established partnership with their health care or mental health provider. For students not able to wear a facial covering, a form provided by the school will need to be signed by the health care or mental health provider. Documentation is required, there are no exceptions. Lack of documentation does not mean that students will be denied access to instruction but it may result in remote learning.
All adults dropping off or picking up children will be required to wear facial coverings.
Stigma, discrimination, or bullying will not be tolerated and if we are made aware of such behaviors it will be addressed following our C10: Prevention of Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying of Students policy.
Schools will have disposable face masks readily available to students, staff, or visitors who do not have access to them.
In Vermont, masks are now required to help prevent the spread of COVID-19