ARLINGTON — Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Homan and Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno wish to share an update on draft return to school plans, along with updated COVID-19 safety recommendations and guidance for residents.
The draft return to school plan will focus on health and safety protocols, approaches to assessment and instruction, as well as support necessary for students’ academic and mental health.
Arlington Public Schools is developing this return plan alongside the Arlington Department of Health and Human Services while following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).
The planning process includes an advisory committee of more than 90 family representatives, teachers, administrators, community leaders and town officials. The committee is working in subcommittees to collaboratively draft and recommend a plan. Dr. Homan will present the draft plan at a School Committee meeting on Thursday, Aug.12.
“We know that families are looking forward to hearing more about our plans for the fall, and we look forward to sharing them in the coming weeks. We appreciate the community’s patience as we work diligently to deliver this collaborative plan,” said Dr. Homan. “Above all, our mission is to keep all students and staff safe while ensuring a welcoming and supportive return to in-person learning.”
The return plan is subject to change following input from key stakeholders, including parents, staff and members of the community. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the plan at a forum following the Aug.12 meeting. The School Committee will vote on a revised plan at a later date in August.
The plan will outline health and safety protocols for:
- Masking of students and staff
- Supporting and monitoring vaccination rates of students and staff
- Ventilation and air purification
- Sanitization and cleaning
- Physical distancing
- Meals, transportation and other services
Arlington Public Schools will continue COVID-19 pooled testing for students and staff in the fall, and encourages all students to participate. Instructions for parents and guardians on providing consent for their child to participate in this program will be announced at a later date.
Additionally, Arlington Health and Human Services continues to conduct contact tracing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in town. In July, there was an increase in COVID-19 cases in Arlington, which was similar to case trends across the state and nation as a result of the Delta variant.
Arlington Health and Human Services recommends that residents follow the new mask advisory issued by DPH following guidance from the CDC. Effective July 30, the state recommends that vaccinated residents who are at increased risk from COVID-19, or who live with someone at increased risk, should wear a face covering in indoor public settings. The DPH also advises all unvaccinated residents to continue to wear a face covering in indoor public settings when social distancing cannot be maintained.
Additionally, Arlington Health and Human Services reminds residents that masks are mandatory for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, while using public transportation and rideshares, healthcare facilities and other settings hosting vulnerable populations, including congregate care settings.
“It is more important than ever to get vaccinated, especially with COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant rising across the country, and potentially impacting vulnerable populations, including those with weakened immune systems,”said Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno. “We urge residents that haven’t been vaccinated yet to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccination serves as the best defense against serious illness or death due to COVID-19.”