Mask Update 02.15.22

Dear Parents, Staff, and Students of the Enfield Public Schools,

Earlier today, House Bill 5047 was passed by the Senate to extend the school mask mandate until June 30, 2022. This bill gives the Commissioner of DPH the authority to implement a statewide mask mandate in all public and private schools until June 30, 2022. I was also informed today that the Commissioner intends to rescind the statewide mask mandate effective February 28, 2022. It is important to note that leaving the authority with the Commissioner does not mean that masks are gone for good; rather, it allows her the authority to implement a statewide mandate again if the situation requires it. We all hope this does not happen, but it is important to note that it could. If it does, it will NOT be the decision of the Enfield Board of Education or mine to make. It will solely be the Commissioner’s decision.

 

Effective February 28, 2022, masks will be recommended in all Enfield Public Schools but no longer required, with two exceptions. The first exception is transportation. The CDC requirement that directs masks to be worn on all public transportation methods also applies to school busses, just as it does for airplanes and trains. This is a federal requirement, and neither the state nor local governments have the authority to remove masks on public school busses. Students and staff will not be required to wear masks in schools, but students and drivers will still be required to wear masks on all busses, both for school transportation as well as for extracurricular activities. A rescission of this must come from the federal government.

 

The second exception is for the Stowe Early Learning Center. Stowe houses our Head Start program, which is a federal program. Because our students at Stowe are integrated between STEAM PK, Integrated PK, and Head Start, any program that resides and interacts with a Head Start program is required to wear masks by federal law. Again, this is a federal directive and can only be removed by the federal government, not state or local law.

 

There are still many unanswered questions around the removal of masks in schools, so I ask for your patience as the State revises mitigation strategies with mask removals. I fully anticipate changes to mitigation strategies, such as quarantine and isolation times, and I will communicate these changes once I receive them.  

 

I understand there may be some that are uneasy with this change, which is completely understandable, but please know anyone who wishes for their child to continue wearing a mask has the right to do so.  This applies to staff members as well. As I’ve stated, I am still recommending masks, but they will no longer be required.

   

For the past two years, every health and safety decision I have been required to make has been done per the recommendation of the CSDE and CDPH. This change has come at the recommendation of both these groups. I have said from day one I am going to listen to the experts, and even if I don’t necessarily agree, I have to trust that the experts know what they are doing. I am sure there will be more information I can share in the coming days, but I made a commitment I would let you know our plan as soon as I knew.

 

Thank you - and stay well, 

 

 

Christopher J. Drezek

Superintendent of Schools