February 18, 2022
Dear APS families & staff,
On Thursday, February 17th, Andover’s Director of Public Health Tom Carbone, APS Director of Nursing Rita Casper and I presented recent COVID-19 data and provided a recommendation to revise the APS Face Coverings Policy, EBCFA to the School Committee. This policy was implemented on August 16, 2021, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and predates the mask mandate issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on August 25, 2021.
My recommendation to the School Committee is to lift the mask requirements on March 7, 2022, making masks optional in APS school buildings. The significant decrease in positive cases in recent months, the availability of vaccines for most in the community and the multiple mitigation strategies we have implemented in our schools to protect our students and staff has indicated the district’s readiness to make masks optional.
Based on historical data of positive cases following extended school breaks, the district may delay the lifting of the mask requirement following February vacation until at least March 14th should the data reflect a need to do so. Any decisions will be made based on data and with the guidance of Andover’s Director of Public Health and APS Director of Nursing.
The Committee’s procedure for adopting or revising policy is a two-reading process. This is intended to provide transparency for everyone impacted by a policy decision. I encourage you to provide any feedback to the School Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until the Committee takes its vote at the meeting on March 3rd, masks will continue to be required in all school buildings. Masks on school transportation is a federal requirement and has yet to be lifted.
I recognize that this news may bring a range of questions, responses, and emotions. I would like to thank our families and staff whose views may have differed from the state and local mandates and policies yet complied to keep our collective school community safe. It has been a long two years, and I appreciate your patience as we needed to adjust, pivot, and navigate through difficult circumstances.
I am encouraged by the positive, recent trends public health officials are seeing, and I am hopeful we can move toward this next step with respect for those whose circumstances might be different from that of your families.
As we approach the two-year mark of the start of the pandemic, I would like to extend my deep appreciation to our nurses, school staff, and families for their partnership and commitment in maintaining a safe learning environment for our students.
Dr. Magda Parvey
Andover Public Schools