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PSB Back to School 21-22: Overview

HealthProtocols


Updated as of August 27, 2021. 


The communication below provides important information from the Public Schools of Brookline. Translated versions are available at the following links:

We have established health and safety protocols designed to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in our school communities. Last school year, based on mitigation strategies for schools recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH), there was minimal spread within schools across the Commonwealth. We will continue to use most of the successful mitigation strategies that we used in the 2020-21 school year. These include but are not limited to:

  • Masking for all PSB students, staff, and visitors;
  • Maintaining our enhanced ventilation systems;
  • Asking staff and students to stay home when sick;
  • Maximize distancing and spacing indoors as possible;
  • Targeted COVID-19 testing and reporting;
  • Continued hand hygiene vigilance; 
  • Encouraging and facilitating COVID-19 vaccinations; and
  • Fostering other healthy behaviors and habits within our community and ourselves.

Over the course of the year, we will continuously monitor and revise these transmission mitigation strategies in response to the latest public health data and recommendations/guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) and other local departments and boards.

 

Masking

As of August 9, 2021, the town of Brookline has mandated face coverings when inside any public town buildings. The Brookline School Committee also approved a face-covering policy on August 17, 2021.

 

When the 2021-22 school year begins, all Public Schools of Brookline students, staff, and visitors must wear a mask or facial covering upon arrival at and in school buildings, transportation, and/or school-sponsored activities. 

 

This policy applies to all individuals at PSB, regardless of their vaccination status. At the discretion of PSB staff, individuals may also need to wear a mask or face covering while outdoors. 

 

Mask Recommendations and Requirements 

A face covering that completely covers the nose and mouth must be worn by all individuals upon arrival to and in school buildings, on school transportation, and at school-sponsored activities even when social distancing is observed. Face coverings must fit snugly against the sides of the face, secured with ties or ear loops. Gaiters, balaclavas, bandanas, and coverings with valves are prohibited.

 

Students and staff should come to school wearing a mask and with at least one extra mask on hand. PSB will continue to provide masks for any students, staff, or visitors, whose mask does not meet these requirements or for students who do not bring a mask to school. Students and staff will not need to wear a mask during mask breaks or when they are eating or drinking in a seated position. If a PSB activity is hosted at a non-PSB venue, the stricter rules for masks and facial coverings will apply at the non-PSB venue. 

 

PSB will continue to review data, including vaccination rates and community metrics related to COVID-19 in our schools, and work with the Town of Brookline in determining the need for the continuation of the mask mandate.

Mask Breaks

Regular breaks from masking and opportunities for outdoor instruction (where masks are not required) have become part of our routine in our schools. Students will be provided with mask breaks at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon. 

 

Mask Exemptions
In some situations, individuals may be excused from the mask requirement. Following CDC guidelines, face coverings will not be required for anyone who has medical, behavioral, or other challenges making it unsafe to wear a face covering. Face shields or physical barriers may provide an alternative to face coverings as an exemption in some instances, subject to written approval from a physician and an exemption waiver granted by PSB Student Health Services. Parents and guardians may not excuse their students from the mask requirement.

 

Physical Distancing

PSB will continue to enforce a policy of physical distancing indoors as feasible. Any form of distancing implemented at PSB buildings should not impede students’ learning experience. Implementation of physical distancing will vary from school to school, based on their building size and enrollment. We will work to maximize the distance between students during masked and unmasked times.

 

Health Protocols

COVIDExposure

As of August 27, 2021, PSB will be using the following health protocols for all students and staff:

The collective commitment to staying home when ill remains critical to a successful school year. As with the 2021-22 school year, staff and families are asked to assess their child’s state of wellness daily, before leaving home for school. The form for families can be found at www.brookline.k12.ma.us/healthattestation. The form for staff can be found in the PSB Staff Portal.

We encourage you to develop routines to incorporate the daily health assessment into your family's schedule, such as:

  • Keeping your thermometer near your cereal cabinet or your coffee pot; 
  • Setting your cell phone timer to do the health assessment at breakfast; 
  • Placing a sign on your refrigerator or at the door exiting your house: "Did I check my child's temperature today?" Did I ask about COVID symptoms today?"

Below is the list of COVID-19 symptoms for which caregivers should monitor their children, and staff should monitor themselves.

  • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills or shaking chills 
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
  • New loss of taste or smell 
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Cough (not due to other known causes, such as a chronic cough) 
  • Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms 
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when in combination with other symptoms
  • Headache when in combination with other symptoms
  • Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms 
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms 

Testing

With DESE support, PSB will offer two targeted COVID-19 testing plans:

  • A BinaxNow rapid antigen test for individuals who become symptomatic while at school, and 
  • A “Test to Stay” program for individuals who are determined to be a close contact, according to DESE/DPH definition. 

Please note that testing can only be done on individuals with a signed consent form. The form can be found at www.brookline.k12.ma.us/healthattestation.

 

Vaccinations

PSBVaccinationNumbers8.16.21


According to the CDC
, the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is highly effective (including against the Delta variant) and strongly reduces an individual’s risk of contracting the virus. As of August 20, 2021, all individuals 12 years or older may receive the vaccine. 

 

PSB encourages that all eligible individuals receive the COVID-19 and is committed to ensuring that 100% of all eligible individuals are vaccinated against COVID-19. The Student Health Services Team held a Pfizer vaccination clinic open to everyone in the Brookline community at the Lincoln School on August 18, 2021. A second clinic will be held on September 8, 2021. Individuals may receive their first or second dose of the vaccine at that time. More information on future clinics will be posted and communicated with the PSB community.