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New Chapter and Mask Guidance Updates

Dear parents, guardians, and members of the Newmarket community,

Two weeks ago, I sent out a letter inviting parents, students, and staff to join the Next Chapter workgroup to consider how to move forward in the upcoming weeks, months, and years and navigate reverberations from the COVID pandemic and legislative changes. There was great interest in coming together to develop a transition plan, knowing that continuing as we have over the past two years is no longer sustainable or desirable for many reasons. To date, the workgroup was formed, stakeholders were surveyed, and the group met for the first-time last night.  

After reviewing some preliminary data, and identifying challenges that would need to be overcome, the group felt that moving to optional mask wearing after the well-documented, post vacation break spike in illness was an important step forward in our journey. This information was going to be shared tonight at the School Board meeting. After listening to the Governor's press release and reading the Commissioners email this morning, we will need to implement our optional mask wearing recommendation a little sooner (Monday, March 7, 2022). The School Board will take action on this at tonight’s meeting. The workgroup will continue to meet to develop additional recommendations to help re-engage families and the community, keep schools open, and recover from the side effects of the pandemic, civic strife, and the labor shortage.

The change in guidance does not call for universal mask removal. Masks are still recommended and required in many organizations, on public transportation, and at healthcare facilities. This means that students riding our buses are still required to wear masks and should continue to bring masks to school.  Masks are also required for those who are eligible to return early from isolation and quarantine. Finally, masks are necessary for anyone who is immunocompromised. Each person’s circumstances and needs are different. For this reason, we should not judge or criticize personal choices/needs of others in our learning community. 

Just a reminder, that staff will not monitor or enforce parental mask preferences unless mask wearing is medically necessary and documented by a healthcare professional. 

Stay tuned for more recommendations from the Next Chapter Workgroup in March.

Enjoy the vacation break!

Susan K. Givens, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools


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