Nancy’s Note 10/20/2021

Masks at the Park Now Optional

We have been watching the numbers carefully, and have been pleased to be able to keep COVID out of our building thus far in the school year. There have been a number of parents who have asked if it might be possible to allow students to unmask during outdoor recesses and outdoor lessons. After careful consideration and ongoing consultation with our Board’s Ad Hoc COVID Advisory Committee, we have decided that starting on Thursday, October, 21, masking will be optional when learning and playing outside.

Our Rationale:

  • Cases in the community are fairly stable and hospitalization for COVID is low right now
  • We have many measures in place to prevent spread of COVID including optional rapid testing, daily screening, masks inside, air purifiers, and frequent handwashing
  • Risk of spread outside is much lower than inside
  • Mental health and wellbeing benefits of being maskless may outweigh risks — at least while community risk is low
  • Students can still wear masks if they want to. Cloth masks protect others, medical masks protect ourselves
  • All of our staff members are now vaccinated, so risk to teachers supervising is low
  • COVID symptoms in children tend to be less severe than in adults.

Our Procedure:

  • At pick-up and drop-off, we still ask that everyone be masked
  • Students will wear their masks/hipsacks to/from the park/outdoor space — in other words, we always wear our pouches with extra masks and sanitizer, and we always mask when in transit
  • Once the class has arrived at the park or other outdoor learning space, if students would like to go maskless, they may, until it is time to line-up and return to our building
  • If a teacher feels a mask is necessary and asks for the student to put one on, the student will follow the teacher’s directions — for example, on some field trips, instructors will ask students to mask outside and we will do so when asked
  • If families would like students to keep their masks on all day, that is a conversation for families, and teachers will not be expected to enforce different rules for different students.

And Finally, We Are Expanding our Rapid Screening Program…

Currently, most of our staff and some of our students participate in Rapid Screening Testing twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays). We would like to invite any students who are not currently participating to join in, if this is of interest. The test is quick, easy, and noninvasive. Students (even the little ones) can administer it themselves. Rapid tests do not eliminate the need for PCR test or screening for symptoms, but they do provide an extra layer of protection for those who are interested. Accuracy for positive results is quite high. Accuracy for negative results is only about 50%, so they cannot be relied on in isolation, but they may help prevent spread within the school. If you are interested, contact Dayana De La Cruz for more information at dayana@mabin.com.