Impact of the Governor's Executive Order

How did the Governor’s executive order impact the goal of “Learning in LeRoy?

 

Since the Governor’s executive order on August 4th, we have had several questions about the start of the school year, most significantly about masks.  As we mentioned in our earlier post, we believe in the plan that we have produced. The plan was both consistent with the CDC guidance and with the response from our public regarding the permissive/mandated use of masks as a mitigation strategy.

 

The executive order will place us in Level 3 for the masking mitigation to start the year.  All students and staff will be required to wear a mask unless they are exempted by a medical professional.

 

As you are all aware, people sit on both sides of this debate.  We have families that are relieved by the mandate and families extremely frustrated by the mandate.  Our plan reflects the initiative of local control and the specific aspect of what the wellness situation is in our community.  Our intention would be to leverage a “leveled” approach, but let’s understand what that means.

 

We were able to be in session last year with the following comprehensive mitigations in place:  daily wellness checks, social distancing to 3’, masks mandatory, contact tracing and quarantines for all close contacts and some secondary close contacts, limiting visitors to the buildings, and proactive cleaning strategies.  With all of those strategies in place, we had only 1 close contact at school that became a positive.  That’s remarkable, but with so many mitigations in place, there is no way of knowing which mitigation had the most significant impact.  A key point would be that If we were to have an internal infection rate of over 2.5%, we would return to a comprehensive list of mitigations. This comprehensive list of mitigations worked last year and are embedded in our plan but were intended to only intensify if the positivity rate were to intensify.

 

The challenge for many in this conversation is understanding how to respond when the conditions are not as problematic.  What mitigations are necessary and for whom are they necessary? While realizing there are more strategies than masking, we do want to provide a perspective to this issue specifically.

 

  1. In all Levels, masks would be permissive for those that felt more comfortable with a mask.

  2. In all Levels, students reporting sick to the office would be asked to wear a mask while waiting to see the nurse or waiting to be picked up.

  3. In Level 1 where the presence and risk of infection is very low,  masks would be permissive but not mandatory.

  4. In Level 2 where the presence and risk of infection is increasing

    • Masks may remain permissive but not mandatory, especially if the county numbers are up but the local numbers are still very low.

    • Masks may be mandatory in any space where social distancing of more than 6’ can’t be maintained.

    • Masks may be mandatory at all times where students are in direct engagement with one another.

    • Masks may be mandatory where the incidence of transmission is spiking.

    • Masks may be mandatory for all students grades K-6.

  5. In Level 3 where the county positive rate exceeds 8% and there is an increasing incidence in our school community or we have a 2.5% internal positive rate, masks will be mandatory.

 

Masks as a mitigation strategy has always been a part of our plan, but we also realize that there are some negatives associated with masks.  We recognize the hesitancy of children and parents about the respiration concerns, the social emotional disconnect, and some of the challenges associated with language acquisition.  We also realize that for some families, masking is seen as the easiest and best way to keep one another healthy.  Our position is not to determine which position is most right, but rather to keep students in classrooms and learning.

 

We have a great deal of learned experience with 175 days in-person last year.  We are better able to determine the appropriateness of mask breaks and how to responsibly manage the “all day” grind of masking for both our students and staff.  

 

Some school districts are beginning their first year of learning with these mitigations in place.  Their students and staff spent most if not all of last year maskless teaching through zoom.  They will have a lot to learn and experience.  We are committed to another great year and ask that you recognize the very challenging position that we are all in.