Dear Gardner-Dickinson Family,
At a press conference this afternoon, the Governor announced the end of the mask mandate in schools, effective Wednesday, March 2. She cited declining metrics for making this decision, including a decrease in COVID cases and hospitalizations, as well as new guidance from the CDC on Friday.
As a result, masks are still required in school on Monday and Tuesday as we await to review and implement new school guidance. Starting Wednesday, masks will be a personal choice in our schools. Although we still recommend the use when applicable, we respect everyone’s right to choose for themselves.
We ask parents and guardians to speak with their child about personal choice and respect for each other’s personal decisions. We will not tolerate any bullying of students or staff who choose to continue to wear a mask.
We understand that this announcement may have a mixed reaction from parents, students and staff. A recent Siena College Research Institute poll found that 58 percent of respondents said the state should wait for early March data before deciding whether to lift the school mask mandate.
Throughout the pandemic, we have relied on guidelines set forth by the State Department of Health and State Education Department in partnership with the county health department.
Conditions are improving locally and across the state. Test positivity is now at the lowest rate since last fall and there is an increased number of students and staff that have been vaccinated.
Our schools also distribute at-home test kits to families – a mitigation tool that was scarcely available in the past. We encourage families to test their child this evening prior to sending them back to school tomorrow, February 28. Anyone testing positive should isolate at home and contact their school’s office.
Thank you for your continued patience, cooperation and understanding. We will share additional information on the new guidance as soon as it is available.
Dr. Mary Yodis