The week before February vacation, Slater and Marjo spoke with Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Joe Curtis about his plan for mask-wearing in school.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) had lifted the mask mandate on a statewide level effective Feb. 28. It was left up to the districts, however, to decide what works for them.

If COVID-19 case numbers after the February break remained low enough in terms of staffing levels and keeping schools open, then on March 7, mask-wearing would become optional.

The following is an excerpt from an email that was sent by Curtis.

During the week of February 28 through March 4, all schools have remained open with safe staffing levels.  The 21-22 Pittsfield Public Schools Confirmed Case Report and Case History currently shows ten active cases, with only one new case reported today.  As a result, masks will be optional in all district, schools, programs, and buses beginning today at 5p.m. Masks will still be required while using any School Health Office.   

On Monday, March 7, 2022:

  • All schools and programs have and will continue to provide clear communication about the expectations of honoring choice to the entire educational community. Honoring choice means that we recognize that individuals have differing reasons for their choice and are entitled to make that choice in either direction, either to wear a mask or not to wear one.  
  • Staff members can not monitor the mask-wearing choice of students or families.  Families should communicate their choice for their child at home.
  • Our Pool Testing and At Home Testing programs will remain in place.  If you have not yet enrolled and wish to now, please click here for more information and registration.
  • PPS will continue to ask students and staff showing the symptoms listed here to stay home and self-test.  
  • Individuals who have tested positive must follow the isolation and quarantine guidance which includes wearing a mask in public for 5 more days after leaving isolation or quarantine on day 5, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Existing distancing and sanitizing practices will remain in place during instruction, transitions, and meal service. Our local school case counts will be monitored closely.
  • Windows will remain slightly open to increase air circulation. Air purifiers will remain turned on during the school day.
  • Carbon dioxide levels will continue to be measured to assess fresh airflow.
  • Students and staff that are experiencing anxiety or difficulty will be supported by building staff, including the School Adjustment Counselors and secondary School Counselors when appropriate.
  • The choice of wearing or not wearing a mask will be respected. If a person or group of people does choose not to respect someone else's choice to wear or not wear a mask, violating PPS District Rule 4,  "I respect and value everyone's individual and group identity...

That full email can be read here.

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