You may have already heard, but the decision was made at the end of last week for the district to go mask optional for all students and staff in our buildings and outside. This is a change that is possible because of the dramatic change in Covid infection rates, hospitalizations, and vaccination status. While this change will be welcomed by many, for others it may be less comfortable. Some people, due to personal circumstances may not feel they can go maskless.
I am asking you to respect one another’s choices in your classes. The decision to continue to mask may be personal, and we are looking to take each individual’s comfort into consideration. If you are working closely with someone who is wearing a mask, you may want to put one on during that interaction. Not because it is required, it is not, but because it is an acknowledgment that we care for one another as community members.
You are encouraged to respect the personal space around each other and do your best to make everyone feel comfortable around you. After two years of being required to wear masks and physically distance ourselves from each other, it may take some getting used to being social in person again. For me, I’m personally looking forward to seeing smiles. That is the one thing I look forward to the most.
The following is paraphrased from another Five Town district communication:
A community member who is an epidemiologist shared her perspective with the board last week. She reminded us that even in the spring of 2020, preventing transmission was not the primary goal of our nation’s initial response to Covid. The primary goal was to reduce hospitalizations and death. At that time the only effective way to reduce hospitalizations was to try and reduce transmission. Our initial response focused on transmission because there was no effective way to prevent disease or treat disease once someone was infected. However, that isn’t the situation today. The most effective way to prevent hospitalizations and deaths is to be vaccinated. In addition, there are now many effective treatments for people who end up seriously ill. She then spoke to the changes in the metrics being used to identify communities who were at higher risk. She spoke to the efficacy of measuring hospitalizations, deaths, and wastewater monitoring. Absolute case numbers are far less correlated with risk than they once were. She did, however, acknowledg that we may find ourselves returning to masking to lower the incidence of hospitalization and death in the future, but in her opinion, it is not required now.
Click here for the full updated protocol for Adult Education. This protocol is simply the District’s plan adapted for Adult Education. Masks are optional for everyone everywhere as of today, regardless of vaccination status, with the following caveats:
- we will continue to monitor local COVID data and will continue to adjust our response accordingly.
- masking etiquette is part of our lives now. Consider masking when speaking closely with someone who is also masked. Be aware that mask choice can quickly become a discrimination issue therefore monitor the responses of those in your classrooms.
- mask optional raises concerns for some and you may not know who or why. Please err on the side of compassion.
- if there are concerns from individuals in your classes, please let us know how we can support their needs.
- Covid positive students and staff will still follow the same protocol in place currently. If you are unsure of what that is, please see the details in the plan here.
- all healthcare-related classes – CNA, Medical Assistant, Phlebotomy Tech, CPR, etc. – will follow the masking policy of Maine Health or Genesis Healthcare at the time of any clinical sessions. Please contact the Adult Education office if unsure at the time of your class.
- the Director or teacher may ask any symptomatic student at any time to don a mask.
Thank you for all that you do for our communities.