As we shared prior to February Break, beginning Monday, March 7th, masking will be optional for all scholars and staff at Alma.
Prior to this policy change, we wanted to share the answers to some questions we have received frequently from our families. Please see below.
Does vaccination status affect an individual’s choice to wear a mask?
The choice to wear or not wear a mask is not linked to vaccination status, and should not be interpreted as a symbol of an individual’s vaccination status. Any individual will be supported in their decision to continue to wear a mask moving forward. However, they are optional for scholars and staff members.
How can I prepare my scholar(s) for this change to masks being optional?
Children have been particularly resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing health and safety guidelines. Each family and each scholar should make their own decision regarding whether they will continue to mask in school. Regardless of whether you wish to have your scholar continue to wear a face mask at school, we encourage you to talk with them about this change at home. We will also be communicating this change to scholars at school. We expect all members of our community to respect others’ right to choose whether they continue to wear a face mask.
Are scholars still required to wear masks on the school bus?
Per the most recent guidance from the CDC, face masks will also become optional on all school buses and vans in New Bedford beginning Monday, March 7th. All other COVID-19 related protocols on the bus (including open windows year round) will also end on March 7th, and school buses will run as they have in a typical school year.
What, if any, COVID-19 related health and safety protocol will remain for scholars and staff at Alma as of March 7th?
Alma continues to have excellent ventilation in both of our school buildings. We will continue to provide face masks for scholars who choose to wear them in our nurses offices. Alma also continues to support our scholars with hand hygiene and other regular cleaning practices.
If my child tests positive for COVID-19, will they need to wear a mask when they return to school? Yes. Current DESE guidance for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 states that individuals may return to school:
- After 5 days and once they have:
- Been without fever for 24 hours (and without taking fever-reducing medications)
- Experienced improvement in other symptoms.
- Following the 5-day isolation period, individuals must mask for 5 additional days when around others, other than when eating, drinking, or outside.
If families prefer their child not to mask in school during this 5 day period, families should plan to keep their scholar home. These scholars will be marked absent.
Note: Alma follows DESE/DPH policy regarding COVID response protocols. Alma will continue to update this policy in accordance with DESE/DPH. See here for current guidance followed by all schools in Massachusetts.
What’s the current vaccination rate at Alma del Mar?
Across all grades and both campuses, about 26% of Alma scholars are currently fully vaccinated (defined as having received 2 doses). Alma strongly encourages all families to have their child vaccinated for COVID-19 to protect our entire community. However, it is not required. As of our last reporting, 82% of Alma staff are fully vaccinated. Per Alma’s current staff Vaccinate or Test Policy, all staff are required to be fully vaccinated or submit a negative weekly test result. This policy has been in place since November 15, 2021.
What circumstances would cause Alma to reverse this decision and again require masks for scholars and staff in the future?
As it stands now, masks are a local decision as of Feb. 28 and we need additional time to think through what circumstances might cause us to reverse this decision in the future. As always, if masks were mandated by state or local officials in the future, Alma would be required to comply.