EWSD to Make Masking Optional Starting March 7
Dear EWSD Families,
As a District, we will be moving to optional masking beginning on Monday, March 7. This will be in effect at all EWSD schools PreK through 12 and on our school buses.
The rationale for this decision and timeline is as follows:
At the Governor’s press conference yesterday (March 3), the Vermont Agency of Education informed the public that they are transitioning from school-specific COVID-19 prevention and mitigation recommendations to general health guidance for all Vermonters. This means that schools will no longer have different rules or recommendations than the general public. Also, the VT AOE, stated that optional masking is no longer associated with vaccination rates.
The CDC is now making COVID-19 recommendations based on “Community Levels.” Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. Chittenden County is classified as medium, which means that the CDC no longer recommends universal indoor mask-wearing in PreK-12 and early education settings.
Both CDC and State officials have stressed that at this stage in the pandemic, universal masking is no longer necessary from a risk perspective. The decision to mask has shifted to an individual level and should be based on specific circumstances and risks.
We want our students, families, and staff to know how important it is to respect one’s personal choice to mask. The District is working to make the transition to optional masking as smooth as possible and will make sure that students understand and respect the choice to wear a mask or not. We ask families to help make this message clear. Please have conversations with your children to support their respect and kindness towards others' choices, whether to wear a mask or not.
To all EWSD adults and students in our community, please be mindful that everyone’s situation is different and has unique variables. While some may feel relief and happiness to see an end to universal masking, the endemic phase of COVID-19 may be scary and nerve-racking for others.
Lastly, we need to stress the importance of staying home when sick. Anyone with symptoms should not come to school. We will continue to send daily case counts for one more week, with our last one going out on March 11 (as per VT AOE guidance, which ends on March 14).
We currently have rapid tests available to anyone who needs them. Have your student pick up a kit from the school nurse or for parents of PreK-5 students please fill out the form on our COVID EWSD website. The AOE will be phasing out testing options for schools, we will keep you updated as we learn their timeline.
Thank you for your continued support and we will keep you updated on any further changes.