End of Year Activities
May 19, 2021
Dear Staff and Families,
I hope this finds you all well. I wanted to take a moment to thank our school community including our students, parents and staff for your commitment to moving us forward every day during this unprecedented school year. The finish line is just around the corner with our last day of the 2020-2021 school year scheduled on Friday, June 18, 2021. This is a half day for students.
I have received many communications this week in reference to mask protocols and end of year celebrations. I do thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns. Yesterday we received new guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and I wanted to take a moment to share our updates.
Masks – School Day
School Committee will be discussing the HPS mask mandate policy at the Thursday, May 27, 2021, School Committee meeting. The current HPS Face Covering policy reads:
All staff and students will be required to wear a clean mask. If a student or staff member is unable to wear a mask due to a disability an IEP or 504 Accommodation Plan must be in place. Face shields may be an option for those with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings. Transparent masks may be the best option for both teachers and students in classes for deaf and hard of hearing students.
Masks will be supplied by the staff member/parent or guardian. Disposable masks will be available at the schools for those that forget, loss or break a mask.
Breaks from wearing masks will be scheduled throughout the day when social distancing allows.
On May 17, 2021, the DESE Commissioner announced, “Effective Tuesday, May 18, students no longer have to wear masks when outdoors, even if distance cannot be maintained. Adults must continue to wear masks outdoors if distancing cannot be maintained. At this time, adults and students must continue to wear masks inside schools.”
The school committee will discuss and determine any needed changes to our present policy. It is important to note that our policy presently allows students to be without masks outdoors – provided they are socially distanced.
Masks – Sporting Events
MIAA, CDC, and Haverhill Department of Public Health have lifted mask requirements for athletes to wear masks during outdoor sporting events. As such, our HHS student-athletes will be encouraged but not required to wear masks on the field. Requirements for spectators, which are in compliance with MIAA regulations, will remain in place. Please note that masks are required for all indoor sporting activities.
High School Graduation
The Baker Administration has lifted the cap on attendees to outdoor events beginning May 29; as such, Haverhill High will be able to increase the number of tickets per graduate from four to eight. That will bring our stadium seating close to capacity. Additionally, there will be some relaxing of previous limitations expected for other senior events such as Prom and Night of Stars. The Haverhill High administrative team will be reaching out to seniors with details.
Moving on Celebrations
At this time, we will continue with our current plans at building level. Most include a drive-through celebration and a student centered celebration.
I thank all of you for your continued support and partnership during this difficult year. I truly appreciate each one of you.
Additional Information for your review:
Department of Elementary & Secondary Education
Frequently Asked Questions, Week of May 17, 2021
- Do students have to wear masks while outdoors?
On May 17th, 2021, after consultation with the MA COVID Command Center’s Medical Advisory Board, the Governor announced that given the low rate of outdoor transmission of COVID-19, students no longer have to wear masks when outdoors, even if distance cannot be maintained. Effective May 18, this guidance update applies to recess, physical education, youth sports, and outdoor learning environments. Adults must continue to wear masks outdoors if distancing cannot be maintained. At this time, adults and students must continue to wear masks indoors.
After consultation with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, it has been determined that close contacts who were exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual while outdoors at recess do not have to quarantine. DESE will issue an updated Protocols to Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios document accordingly.
- Are students allowed to share objects (classroom materials or art supplies?)
On May 17th, 2021, after consultation with the MA COVID Command Center’s Medical Advisory Board, the Governor announced that given the low likelihood of surface transmission of COVID-19, schools no longer have to avoid sharing objects. This includes classroom materials, items for physical education, or art supplies. Shared objects no longer have to be cleaned or disinfected between use and should follow the updated cleaning guidance outlined below.
- How frequently do schools have to clean spaces or surfaces?
Based on CDC guidance and updated information on the low likelihood of surface transmission, schools now only need to clean high touch surfaces (door handles, bus seats, drinking fountains) and shared objects within the school and on school transport vehicles once a day, excluding certain circumstances. If schools are located in an area of high transmission of COVID-19, then they may consider cleaning more frequently, or cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects once a day. Similarly, for areas where masks are not worn (i.e., lunch areas), schools may consider cleaning surfaces between use. If a surface or object is visibly soiled, it should be immediately cleaned. If someone in the school in the past 24 hours has confirmed to have COVID-19, the spaces (i.e., classroom, bus and lunch area) they were in should be cleaned and disinfected. If disinfecting, ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning products, including storing products securely away from children.
- Will the gathering limits for school events with outside participants change this spring?
In alignment with state guidance, the gathering limits for school events with outside participants will be lifted starting May 29, 2021. The other health and safety measures, such as masking, distancing, and other protocols, outlined in DESE’s Supplemental Guidance for Student Groups and School Events for School Year 2020-2021(download) will still apply.
- As the weather grows warmer, can schools and classrooms use air conditioning?
Schools should continue to maximize ventilation and air exchanges in schools and classrooms, even in warmer weather. Schools should target 4-6 air exchanges per hour through any combination of ventilation and filtration by keeping doors open, using portable air purifiers, and/or keeping windows cracked open one or two inches.
For schools with centralized systems or in-room unit ventilators, they should continue to have those units bring in as much fresh air as possible into the classrooms and increase the level of filtration in the system. Keeping windows open a few inches and doors open for cross-ventilation or using portable air cleaners with HEPA filters are good strategies.
If individual window air conditioning is used, schools should be mindful that many individual AC units often only recirculate air; they may not provide any ventilation, they may only have low levels of filtration. These AC units can be used but they are not a substitute for achieving the recommended 4-6 air exchanges per hour. Fans may also be used in windows (e.g., facing outwards to facilitate ventilation). Fans should not blow directly on or towards individuals.
- Do students have to wear masks while outdoors?