Regional School Committee to discuss Algonquin’s mask policy – Monday (Updated)

Above: Next week the Regional School Committee will discuss potential changes to the face mask policy adopted last September. (mask icon from 2020 reopening website)

[Updated (8/20/21 1:32 pm): The meeting has been cancelled. (No explanation has been provided yet. Superintendent Martineau has been issuing weekly updates on Fridays. So, there may be an explanation later today.)]

The Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee will hear from the district’s Medical Advisory Team (MAT) on Monday night. Following a presentation, the committee will discuss, and possibly act on, its policy for face coverings.

As currently written, the policy is more restrictive than the rules Algonquin and other NSBORO schools were enforcing at the end of the past school year. Although the administration announced revised guidelines over the course of the year, the Regional, Southborough, and Northborough school committees never voted to revise policies they adopted in September.

The policy requires wearing of face masks in school buildings, on school grounds, and on buses with few exceptions. Algonquin students were eventually allowed to remove masks outdoors, on the grounds during some situations (like school sports) and when social distance could be maintained.

Based on guidance from MAT, Superintendent Gregory Martineau relaxed the guidelines in May to allow Algonquin students to remove masks outdoors even at close distances. (Eventually, the relaxed outdoor guidelines were also extended to the lower schools.)

Last week, Martineau updated the community on efforts to determine protocols for the coming school year:

On Tuesday, August 10, 2021, the District Medical Advisory Team (MAT) convened to discuss what health and safety measures will be in place as we begin the 2021-2022 academic year. The topics discussed were: Masking, social distancing, COVID-19 screening, cleaning protocols, and contact tracing. The MAT will meet again early next week to communicate its recommendations, as it believes that allowing more time before making final recommendations will enable more data to be reviewed. From the MAT’s recommendations, I will work closely with building leaders and Mary Ellen Duggan, District Wellness Coordinator and Nurse Leader, to make a final decision on the health and safety protocols that will be required.

An agenda posted for Monday schedules the MAT to present to the RSC at 6:00 pm on August 23rd. The agenda also includes “Discussion and Possible Action on A-170 Face Coverings Policy”. Audience participation is not listed as an agenda item. To view the meeting, pre-register for the zoom webinar.

The normal protocol for changes to school policies requires public readings of the proposed revisions at two school committee meetings prior to voting. (I don’t know if there are emergency provisions that allow Covid related policies to be revised more rapidly.)

So far, no schedule is posted for a Southborough School Committee meeting prior to the resumption of school on September 1st. Martineau has pledged to update parents weekly between now and then.

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