SWANZEY — Superintendent Lisa Witte announces that the Monadnock Regional School District intends to return to full-time in-person learning beginning May 3, rather than on April 19, which the state of New Hampshire had previously identified as a target date for doing so.
While Gov. Chris Sununu’s administration has mandated a return to in-person learning five days per week on April 19, SAU 93 intends to work within its existing reopening plan to ensure a safe and sustainable return to fully in-person learning and has identified May 3 as a date by which it can achieve that goal. The board voted yesterday evening to approve the plan.
The state has identified April 19 as the date by which educators should have been able to become fully vaccinated. However, first vaccine doses were not made available on a widespread basis for SAU 93 staff until March 19.
As a result, the district intends to delay its reopening by two weeks, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated is the time needed for an individual to be considered fully vaccinated following their second dose.
“We are eager to return to fully in-person learning so that our students can reap the benefits of being in school with their peers and educators,” Superintendent Witte said. “However, it’s critical that we plan a re-opening that protects the well-being of our entire community, which means ensuring that our teachers and staff are fully protected from a virus that has interrupted all of our lives for more than a year.”
On March 19 and 20, approximately 143 school employees obtained their first doses of the vaccine, which means they will not have developed full protection against the virus before April 23. By re-opening on May 3, the district is able to ensure that as many staff members as possible will be vaccinated fully.
“The approach we’re taking aligns closely with our re-opening plan and our promise to consider everyone’s health and safety first and foremost,” School Board Chair Scott Peters said. “We are committed to upholding that promise and, I believe Gov. Sununu was right when he indicated last July that each district will have its own path forward and that local control is essential to ensuring that the right decisions are made for our school community.”
As it looks toward returning to fully in-person learning, the district is working to maximize social distancing, but has noted that maintaining the minimum of three feet between individuals will be challenging under certain circumstances. To mitigate those concerns, the district is prioritizing vaccination for staff to ensure they’re protected in the event that the minimum standard — three feet between individuals — cannot be met.
To read the board’s letter to Frank Edelblut, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, click here.