5/17/21 Parent Letter
Dear Parent/Guardian, Students, and Staff Members,
Today, Governor Baker announced changes to the face mask mandate. These changes are due to the widespread increase of individuals who are fully vaccinated or have received at least one dose of the two shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. In addition the number of positive cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infections with complications has decreased substantially. In line with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance, the Baker Administration will rescind the current face covering order and issue a new order effective May 29, 2021.
The guidance includes the following:
Fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face mask or physically distance indoors or outdoors except in certain situations.
Face Masks are required for all individuals on public or private transportation, which includes school buses.
Face masks are required in healthcare settings, including providers, congregate care settings, and rehabilitative day service providers.
Face coverings will also be required for staff and students in PreK-12 schools.
Non-vaccinated individuals, which includes children under the age of 12 are advised to continue to wear face masks and physically distance in most settings.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will issue new guidance that will not require masks be worn for outdoor activities such as recess.
Students will be allowed to share educational class materials with strict adherence to disinfection protocols.
This is good news and demonstrates how far we have come in reopening. However, it is dependent on widespread immunity to COVID-19 through vaccination. Currently, students 12 years old and older can be vaccinated. If the student is under the age of 18, they must have a parent or guardian present to authorize the vaccination.
Northern Berkshire Pediatrics and the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative are jointly hosting teen vaccination clinics on the following dates for first doses:
Thursday May 20 from 2:00 pm-7:00 pm
Tuesday May 25 from 3:00 pm-7:00 pm
Thursday May 27th from 3:00 pm-7:00 pm
Second doses will be exactly 3 weeks later at the same time (people can call Northern Berkshire Pediatrics if they need to change the time). All clinics will be at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center, 70 Marshall St., North Adams (next to the CVS/Big Y shopping center). If parents or guardians haven’t gotten their shot yet, they can get it at the same time as their teen and can just register on site.
Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can register for these appointments by calling our office (413-663-8365) or by responding to their portal invitation they received via email. Those who are not Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can of course still be vaccinated, these individuals would just be part of the regular clinic and can sign up the usual way through the vaccine collaborative.
North Adams Public Schools is going to continue pool testing and responding to any positive case of COVID-19 using contact tracing in collaboration with the Department of Public Health. These efforts will also assist the district in identifying and limiting exposure to students and staff through early isolation. The ability to join the pooled testing program by providing consent will remain an open enrollment process and you can submit your consent form at any time. Please provide an individual consent form for each of your children who attends North Adams Public Schools. The more individuals who participate, the safer our schools will be!
To participate in the testing program, you need to sign a consent form. You only need to sign once to consent for testing each week. The consent form can be found on the new COVID Pool Testing Program webpage on the district webpage located here.
Have Questions? Contact Lauren Gage, District Testing Coordinator and School Nurse Leader at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and we hope each of you and your families remain healthy!
Dr. Barbara Malkas