Dear fellow members of the Broadalbin-Perth community,
When we published our district’s reopening plan this summer, we made certain commitments to you that I want to reiterate today. First and foremost, we recognize that we have a responsibility to protect the health of our faculty, staff, and students — as well as the health of the families those individuals go home to each day. Our commitment to maintaining health and safety standards that align with state and federal mandates, guidelines and recommendations remains as strong today as it was in August.
I’m proud that the school day at B-P looks relatively “normal,” considering the circumstances: Students are traveling the hallways to special area classes, socializing during lunch, and elementary students are gathering on the rugs in their classrooms to listen to their teachers reading stories. But the more “normal” we try to make things for our children, the more precautions we need to take to minimize the risk of spreading of COVID-19.
During the first few weeks of school, we saw some variation in how our faculty and staff interpreted and applied the state guidance about face coverings. Some allowed students to remove their masks frequently when they were socially distanced, while others had students keep their masks on even when social distancing was being maintained.
It’s important to me that we uphold the commitment we made to parents over the summer that their children would not be required to wear face coverings all day when at school. So, in order to ensure consistency across all classrooms, for all students, I told our faculty and staff yesterday that they must allow masks breaks for 10 minutes every hour at the elementary school, and 10 minutes every period at the high school when students are maintaining at least six feet of social distancing. Teachers have the discretion to give two five-minute breaks per hour or period, or give the 10 minutes all at once. In addition to these mandatory breaks, students also remove their masks during lunch and snack breaks, and during physical education classes — all while maintaining social distancing.
When masks are being worn, they should be worn properly, covering both the nose and mouth. Remember that acceptable face coverings at B-P include disposable medical masks, reusable cloth masks, and N-95 masks. Neck gaiters, bandannas and other single-layer cloth masks are not allowed. All face coverings must be in compliance with the district’s code of conduct.
I recognize that there is a broad spectrum of views about masks and face coverings in our community, and I expect and appreciate differences of opinion and critical discussion. I hope that with this new, standardized mask-break protocol we are striking the right balance between providing our students with a sense of normalcy and protecting the health of our community.
As with all issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continually evaluate this situation and adjust our protocols accordingly. If you have any questions about this or any other topic, please contact my office at 518-954-2501.