Connecticut officials have released instructions on how K-12 schools across the state should comply with face mask rules now that local counties are preparing for the state’s mandate to expire on Feb. 28.
Departments of Public Health and Education recommend that counties consider a variety of indicators when determining whether to continue requiring masks, including the prevalence of local COVID-19 infections, vaccination status of students, staff, and society, and scope for planning. still needed to accommodate students and staff who may be at greater risk of infection.
“Before making any significant changes to mitigation strategies in schools (including the use of universal masks), the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Education are urging school districts to consider and discuss the unique challenges of the school environment. in their school buildings, the health of their school population and the conditions in their immediate and adjacent settlements, ”reads one of two documents released Friday night in the districts.
Institutions have also included recommended steps that districts should take in the event of an outbreak, including restoring the mandate of localized masks, restricting mixing of classrooms and classrooms during meals and breaks, and restricting visitors outside.
Last week, the General Assembly voted to temporarily extend some of the remaining orders of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, related to the pandemic, which was due to expire on February 15, including powers on masks for schools and children’s centers across the state. Lamont, however, said he only wants to keep the mandate for the mask until Feb. 28, giving local school boards time to decide whether a mask is needed in their schools.
He cited the main reason for the decline in COVID-19 infections in the state, joining other Democratic governors in lifting the controversial pandemic restriction. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins, the average number of new cases over the past two weeks fell by 518.1, up 36.0%.
So far, there have been mixed reactions to the expected change in state-wide camouflage rules by local school officials. The state’s largest cities – including Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury and Stamford – plan to continue to require face masks in schools after Feb. 29, while many other areas have decided to make masks optional, according to Hartford Courant. Some areas have not yet decided how to act, and parents and staff are being interviewed before a final decision is made.
West Hartford is among dozens of communities in Connecticut that have decided to make masks optional.
“Now the reality is that the Department of Public Health has said that in many parts of Connecticut the right and safe time has come to move away from mandatory camouflage,” West Hartford superintendent Thomas Moore wrote in a recent statement to parents. Given the high level of vaccination in his community, the sharp drop in school cases and the immunity gained by people exposed to the omicron variant, “March should be a time when West Hartford’s public schools may switch to optional mask wear.”
The Connecticut Inter-School Sports Conference, a state organization that oversees sports in high school, announced Friday that it will not require student-athletes to wear masks at outdoor and indoor workouts and competitions from Feb. 28. However, the updated guide states that student-athletes, officials, coaches, gaming workers and spectators will follow the camouflage rules issued by the venues where the events are held.
Meanwhile, government officials said school districts will receive additional supplies of COVID tests by Feb. 28. It is expected that each student and staff member will be given two sets. In schools where universal camouflage ends Feb. 28, the state said the kits should be used by all staff and students before the mandate is revoked.
“Ideally, one test should be performed at home in the morning before going to school on the first day of the introduction of optional camouflage,” – said in a state instruction.
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