Algonquin invites students with anxiety about lifted mask mandate to submit concerns ASAP for help navigating change

This morning, Algonquin Principal Sean Bevan issued an email to students and families. It announces last night’s decision to lift mask requirements effective a week from Monday. (Though, they will still be required on the bus.)

The message acknowledges that if there is a spike in Covid cases that causes attendance to drop too low, the mask mandate will be temporarily reinstated.

Recognizing that some families are “anxious about the implications of this change”, they are invited to let the school know by completing a form.

This isn’t to get feedback on whether or not the administration made the right decision. It’s an option to have guidance staff answer concerns and help students “navigate” their return to the changed environment after break. The form is due by “the start of the day tomorrow, Friday.”

The linked form is titled “Students seeking support through masking change”. It introduces:

We would like to know if you have any questions or concerns about the change to Algonquin’s mask requirement. We know that masking is a very personal choice. We would like to know how we can assist you in navigating the recent changes in order to support you in the classroom.

The form then asks:

  • What questions do you have about the change in Algonquin’s masking policy? 
  • Do you have any concerns with the change in masking requirements? 
  • If you are not yet comfortable with the change to flexible masking, how can we support you through this change? 

Below is the full email message: 

Good morning,

Last night, the Regional School Committee voted unanimously to lift the mask requirement, effective Monday, February 28. You are welcome to watch a video of the meeting, which is posted here.

This means that, effective at the start of the school day on Monday, February 28, students, staff, and guests will have the choice of whether or not to wear masks in the school building or at school events (including athletics practices and games), except for on the school bus or in the Health Office.

The motion to lift the requirement includes criteria through which a mask requirement could be temporarily reinstated should we see an unanticipated, significant spike in student absences and case counts. Similarly, the motion outlines how the temporary requirement would be lifted once the rate of absences stabilizes. For context, if we apply this plan to our school year so far, the masking requirement would have been enacted first in late December (during the Omicron surge) and would have been lifted in late January.

I recognize that this is a significant change and will be welcome by many students and staff. I also understand that this change may be a source of stress for some that are not yet ready to remove their masks at school and may be nervous about being around others who are not wearing a mask. If you or your child are anxious about the implications of this change, please complete this form so that our guidance staff can reach out to you. They can help students to navigate the return to classes on February 28, working discreetly with teachers to be sure all of our students are feeling supported and safe. The form closes at the start of the day tomorrow, Friday. Finally, we encourage all parents to talk with their child about the importance of respecting the choices of their peers, to wear a mask or not.

As a school, a state, and a country, we have all been through an exceedingly difficult last 22 months, and this change represents a major step in our journey toward returning our school environment to a sense of normalcy. I am deeply grateful for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this challenge together.

Sean Bevan
Principal, ARHS


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2 years ago

Guidance, therapy, support for anxiety for those sad, sorry parents and kids who just can’t move on with their life, because they’ll be free of masks, and can enjoy life once more. I’ve heard everything now. Take the masks off, and let’s deal with gas prices, inflation, you
all must be feeling the cost of living, is now unmanageable, and our border crisis. These are a few of the issues ruining this country, and causing angst..

2 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

Good point Beth,

They should apologize to the kids for instilling that fear and explain to them the masks were a mistake and never necessary. Being lied to and manipulated and falsely told you were disease spreaders is going to be hard to swallow for these kids. The adults have mentally and physically abused the kids with these policies for too long. The psychological support all these kids will need will be tremendous for many years.

2 years ago

No, let’s not deal with gas prices, inflation, and the border crisis on this blog. There are clearly plenty of news sources you can go to if you want to get angry about national politics, but this is a local blog. Save your angst over national issues for talk radio.

2 years ago
Reply to  Jack

Jack Gas prices, and cost of living are local issues, in case you haven’t been aware. Many people are feeling the pain at the market, and every where else, so I will mention this, as it is affecting us all. Ever hear of freedom of speech Jack.

2 years ago
Reply to  Jack

Yes, as much as we might all have issues with varying things going on in the country, this is a Southborough related site. Even if we want to, Southborough can’t really have any impact on gas prices, inflation, etc.

I think we should try to keep the emphasis here on what relates to our town, and what we can do better here. Complaining about national politics or things that we can’t change isn’t useful here other than to upset each other.

Matthew Brownell
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack

“Jack” –

You hold fine career promise as a censor for FaceBook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Since when is inflation, gas & food pricing, and the border (aka: open, non-enforced EZ-Pass), and the 7×24 genuflecting to a Totalitarian, Communist China not of local interest?

Nothing to see here, Jack?
Move along, move along?

Get Better –

another point of view
2 years ago

Thanks, Beth..for your quick and accurate rebuttal to both above posters. Their insults and vitriol are so so unnecessary and so symptomatic of the divisiveness rampant throughout our great country.

Tim Martel
2 years ago

It’s clear from these posters’ words and tone that they are quite frustrated with political and medical decisions that have been made in recent times.

It’s also clear that your own quick dismissal of their feelings and positions is “symptomatic of the divisiveness rampant throughout our great country.”

So long as both sides continue to denigrate the other and refuse to find a middle path, this country will struggle to be “great”.

Frank Crowell
2 years ago

Will there be participation trophies for all students who wore their masks?

2 years ago

As the mother of a child who is at high risk for complications from Covid, I am personally struggling with the move to remove masks. I personally feel that it is too soon, and especially right after the break. That said, I recognize that we can’t continue to mask forever and I’m hopeful that numbers will continue to drop and we are moving to a different phase of the pandemic where because of vaccinations and treatments, getting Covid won’t be as serious as it once was. I am grateful that the administration at Algonquin is showing itself to be sensitive to the concerns of those kids who might be immunocompromised, medically fragile, or have parents or grandparents they are trying to protect. It’s distressing to see the tone of these comments–I thought Southborough was a place where we could have civil conversations. I’ve watched with horror videos of school board meetings elsewhere where the behavior has been abominable. Let’s not go down that path.

Kelly Roney
2 years ago
Reply to  Vern


Unfortunately, there are people in the current political environment who seem to view nastiness as a feature, not a bug.

I date this slide to Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, who set out to damage Bill Clinton for his personal failings, when they themselves and nearly every impeachment manager shared the same infidelities.

Frank Crowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

Wow – the internal Democratic polls for Mass. must look really bad to post whopper like that. Maybe the opposite of the Tip O’Neal theory will happen this year (All politics is local) and the national Democratic positions will drag down all Democrats. 

The “personal failings” of Bill Clinton included losing a civil law suit on sexually harassing Paula Jones. He also was held in contempt of court and lost his law license. I would say that was a little more than “personal failings.” You are right on timing. The inflection point downward for the US started with Bill Clinton’s election.

As for the comment that started this thread, the kids are owed an apology for being kept out of school, for the mountain debt accrued and for the dangerous world they will inherit – and maybe the poisonous group think within the “independent” education committees.

Kelly Roney
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank Crowell

Did you imagine I was defending Bill Clinton? Not at all. What I’m saying is that his accusers were guilty of hypocrisy, because nearly every one of the impeachment managers, especially Gingrich, was actively having an affair at the time they were impeaching Clinton for it.

“Poisonous group think” is a hilarious deflection, but I wonder whether Newt Gingrich had that term poll-tested by Frank Luntz back in the day.

Tim Martel
2 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

C’mon Kelly. You can’t decry nastiness in political debate and then immediately turn around and goad those very same people into nastiness.

Kelly Roney
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Martel

Wait, Tim, is arguing my case politely but strongly just as bad as Frank’s nastiness?

No, it’s not. This is not a bothsides problem. It’s odd to me that you imagine it is.

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