School principal recommends masks for students, staff and visitors to campus

Covid-19 image
“This is the first arrow we shoot at a moving target.”

– Elisabeth Homan

The committee will vote later this month

UPDATE, August 19: During her first school committee meeting as superintendent, Dr. Elizabeth C. Homan on Thursday, August 12, recommended that all students, staff and visitors wear masks inside campus, regardless of their size. or the Covid-19 vaccination status. At the meeting, and in written materials released earlier, Homan noted that this was in line with current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and also in line with the plans of many neighboring communities.

School committee logo

According to the proposed plan, masks are also to be worn on district buses, the windows of which will be opened when the weather permits, and with children in assigned seats. The buses will be cleaned daily.

People of all ages are required to provide their own masks, but extras will be available for free on all campuses. Certain exceptions to masking may be possible on a case-by-case basis for people with health problems or disabilities that make wearing a mask difficult or impossible.

Additionally, Homan recommended that all employees on campus be required to either be vaccinated or produce a negative Covid-19 PCR test result every week.

The seven-member committee expects to vote on the issue at its next meeting later this month.

Protocols could be adjusted later

Homan said health and safety protocols could be relaxed or tightened later in the school year in response to local conditions of the ongoing pandemic. Classes for all children at Arlington Public Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12e grade, are scheduled to start Sept. 9.

According to Homan, a vaccination rate of 90 percent or more and / or a participation rate in weekly “pool tests” of 90 percent or more are among the conditions that could lead to more leniency with mask wearing. Parents have been asked to give written consent for pool testing – in which each child tests individually and swabs from each class are combined and then analyzed anonymously – and more than 2,000 families have already complied, a- she declared.

“This is the first arrow we shoot at a moving target,” Homan said.It’s a shifting ground we stand on, and we’re ready to pivot if necessary. She said the district is on track for “full, consistent and in-person feedback”, with the primary goal of creating and establishing a fair, inclusive and safe learning environment for all.

Its recommendations call for more flexibility in classroom seating than before. Desks no longer need to be one meter apart at all times and don’t always have to face forward. And younger students can return to sit on rugs on the floor when their teachers deem it appropriate.

Lunchtime recommendations

Lunchtime, when masks obviously need to be ditched, will require students to stay with their class, cohort, or learning community, with assigned seats inside and with 6 feet maintained between sixth grade groups and below. The situation is more flexible for years 7 to 12, as this age group is eligible for vaccination, while those under 12 are not. Homan said a large percentage of students in Grades 7 to 12 are vaccinated but did not provide figures.

According to his plan, lunch will be outside when the weather permits for all levels. Speech, language and musical interpretation classes at all grade levels will take place outdoors whenever possible.

Homan said all campuses are in very good shape with regards to ventilation and air purification, and all have sufficient facilities for washing and sanitizing their hands.

Students and staff who feel ill in any way should not come to campus and should take a PCR test to check for the presence of Covid-19. Any positive result will require you to stay home for 10 days, although this may change based on State Department policies for elementary and secondary education. “We will constantly re-evaluate,” Homan said.

Committee members respond

Committee members generally seemed to accept what they heard.

Kirsi Allison-Ampe, who is a doctor, asked for more details on policies for families who take their children out of the area for vacations and then send them back to school. “We need to be clear on what we are asking families to do,” Allison-Ampe said.

Jane Morgan wanted more clarity on what it would take to reduce mask use. “There are [social, emotional and academic] the costs of universal masking, ”she said, especially with children who are deaf, have other disabilities or are learning English.

Paul Schlichtman wanted to know what would happen if the local Covid-19 situation were at some point to worsen and require more restrictions.

“Vaccinations are the way we’re going to get out of this [pandemic]”Said Christine Bongiorno, director of health and social services in the city.

Registration, METCO

In the other cases, it was reported that:

  • Enrollment has a slight upward trend, with 101 more students expected across the district, including more kindergarteners and more third graders, but fewer first graders and fewer students. second year students. This is in comparison with the equivalent figures on October 1, 2020, at the start of the previous school year. The updated numbers are expected by September 9, the first day of classes. Here are the figures as of August 3 >>
  • The district now has an assistant principal on each of the seven elementary school campuses as well as new administrators at the coordinator and principal levels.
  • The district is actively seeking someone to lead the METCO program, through which disadvantaged Boston youth of color voluntarily attend Arlington schools; a decision could be made later this month. METCO stands for Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, and Arlington was among the first to participate, in 1966.
  • The district received an award of $ 20,755 from the Symmes Memorial Fund for “Updating and Enhancing the Arlington Public Schools Human Growth and Development Program and the Grade 4 and 5 Health Program.” The fund was created with the proceeds of the dissolution of Symmes Hospital in Arlington and now provides annual grants to organizations serving the Arlington community and its medical needs.
  • The committee voted, 7-0, to approve the latest job description for the district data coach. This position will be in the Arlington Education Association bargaining unit, according to director of human resources Robert Spiegel. See job description >>
  • The committee voted unanimously to increase the spending limit from $ 900,000 to $ 4 million for the LABBB Collective. View Budget Plan >> LABBB stands for Lexington, Arlington, Burlington, Bedford and Belmont (Arlington and four of its neighboring municipalities). According to its website, its mission is to design and deliver special education services that promote academic, social and professional independence in the most inclusive settings possible. The request note read: “We are requesting that our investment plan be increased to fund future transportation capital expenditures, improvements to our internal IT systems and infrastructure, classroom upgrades and other costs. unplanned construction when LABBB uses space in the host district. “
Names to notice

School committee secretary Elizabeth Diggins said:

New assistant directors

Nicole Schwartz, Brackett

Evan Liner, bishop

Olivia Wilson, Peirce

Peggy Tsatsoulis, Hardy

Samantha Karustis, Dallin

Stephanie Greiner, Gibbs

Chrisna Chevalier, Thompson

New directors, coordinators

Margaret Credle Thomas, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Rashmi Pimprikar, Director of Digital Learning

Doreen Crowe, Director of Nursing, Preschool-12

Rena Mello, college special education coordinator

Watch the meeting broadcast by ACMi:

August 12 preliminary plan documents >>

1-11 August 2021: BACK IN PROGRESS: Public schools, municipal services update the draft health report
‘GBH, August 10, 2021: 100 revolutionary cases of coronavirus en masse resulted in death
Business Insider: Doctor at New Orleans children’s hospital says reopening of schools without masks is “formula for disaster” as COVID-19 rages in Louisiana
Fast Company, August 11, 2021: Delta is raging. Is it really safe to send children back to class?

This news summary from YourArlington freelance writer Judith Pfeffer was posted on Friday, August 13, 2021 and updated to add more bullet points. A link to the registration was added on August 15th. The names were added on August 16. An ACMi video window was added on August 19.

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