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RETURN TO CLASSES: Public schools, town services update draft health report

Covid-19 image
"We appreciate the community's patience as we work diligently to deliver this collaborative plan."
-- Elizabeth Homan

UPDATED, Aug. 11: Schools Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Homan and Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno have issued an update on return-to-school plans, along with updated Covid-19 safety recommendations and guidance for residents.

The plan, made public Saturday, July 31, as a draft, focuses on health and safety protocols, approaches to assessment and instruction, as well as support necessary for students' academic and mental health. See the more formal draft in the link below.

Aug. 12 draft plan documents >>

Arlington Public Schools is developing this return plan alongside the town Department of Health and Human Services while following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state Department of Public Health.

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. Homan is to present the draft plan at a School Committee meeting Thursday, Aug. 12.

Mission: Keep students, staff safe

"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 Homan in a news release. "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 plans to vote on a revised plan later 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;
  • Sanitizing and cleaning;
  • Physical distancing; and
  • Meals, transportation and other services.
Testing continues

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.
In addition, town 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. See the ongoing updates here >> 

Town Health and Human Services recommends that residents follow the new mask advisory issued by the state following guidance from the CDC:

  1. 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.
  2. 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, town Health and Human Services reminds residents that masks are mandatory for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, while using public transportation and ride shares, health-care 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 Bongiorno. "We urge ridents 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."

Covid-19 vaccines are free and available to anyone above the age of 12. Residents who wish to get vaccinated can register here >> 

July 18, 2021: An in-depth look at new public-school superintendent


This news announcement was published Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. It was provided by Alia Spring of John Guilfoil Public Relations. It was updated Aug. 11, to add link to draft plan documents,

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