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The Goal is to Keep our School Community Safe

and our students in School.




9/27/21 DESE Extension of Mask Requirement 

9/27/21 DESE Policy on Vaccination Rate Threshold 

Back to School COVID FAQs - August 27, 2021

Can my child opt out of Pooled Testing but still have access to the Rapid Antigen Test (for symptoms in school) and the Test and Stay program? 

While the state requires the consent form to present the three COVID testing strategies as a package, we will allow families to opt-out of a single strategy.  

If you want to enroll in any part of the testing program, please complete this form and consent to participate in the program. To opt-out of a particular aspect of the program, such as Pooled Testing, please call the nurse at your child's school to let them know. We continue to encourage all students and staff to participate in our Pooled Testing program. This strategy is most effective when all community members partake to keep everyone safe and in school.


If my child is exhibiting COVID-like symptoms at home, can I send them to the school for a Rapid Antigen Test?

As has been standard practice for many years, if your child is sick and exhibiting symptoms, please keep them at home. If your child needs a COVID test, please get in touch with your family physician.

Back to School COVID FAQs - August 20, 2021

  1. What PK-12 health and safety protocols are being recommended now by health experts and key decision- makers in light of the Delta variant of the virus? 

Below, please find a timeline and summary of the most recent guidance issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) and elected and appointed State officials: 

    • 7/19/21:  American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”) recommends a “layered approach to make school safe for all students teachers, and staff.” The AAP’s guidance includes a recommendation that everyone older than age 2 wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

    • 7/30/21:  In collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH), the Commissioner of Education released this updated guidance for PK-12 public schools.  Governor Baker spoke in support of the Commissioner’s recommendation later in the day.


2.  The guidance from the AAP, the CDC, and the MA DPH is inconsistent. What are the masking rules that HWRSD will follow when school opens this fall?     

    • On 8/19/21 the School Committee voted to implement a universal masking policy for the start of the school year.  The need for this policy will be reviewed on a regular basis.

    • Masks will be required for all students, staff, and school visitors, regardless of vaccination status, when inside the districts’ facilities and on our school buses. 

    • Outdoors is still the safest place to be. No masking is required when outdoors. 

  1. What is informing the universal masking decision?

    • Our goal is to keep our school community safe, and our students in school.

    • There are on-going concerns regarding the Delta variant and that there is reason to believe that vaccinated people can transmit this variant.

    • There is no remote-schooling option for the 21-22 school year; we need to be particularly mindful of our students and families who have heightened vulnerabilities to a COVID-19 infection. 

    • Physical distancing has a more significant impact on the educational environment and learning; masking reduces the need for strict physical distancing procedures.

    • A universal masking policy is operationally and culturally easier to implement and enforce in comparison to a differentiated policy based on vaccination status. 

  1. Are there any exceptions to the universal indoor mask requirement?

    • We recognize the importance of universal masking but also understand there are places where the mask impacts instruction. If instruction cannot effectively happen outside and the educator is vaccinated and the educator is more than 6' from anyone else, the educator may remove their mask for the portion of a lesson where the primary goal is forming or manipulating sounds (learning a language, English or other languages, phonics, phonemic awareness) or reading facial expressions (social pragmatics lessons). Once the part of the lesson addressing these things is complete, the educator should put their mask back on. Open windows are especially encouraged during these times. 

    • Individuals may be excused from the universal masking requirement for the following list of reasons, per CDC guidance:

The individual:

        • has trouble breathing.

        • is unconscious.

        • in incapacitated.

        • cannot remove the mask or face covering without assistance.

    • In addition, masks or face coverings will not be required for anyone who has a medical, behavioral or other challenge making it unsafe to wear a face mask or face covering.  A written note from a physician is required for a requested exemption.  Parents may not excuse their child from the face mask requirement by signing a waiver.

  1. Will the HWRSD continue with its pooled testing program this fall?

    • Yes, the district will continue to offer and promote a pooled testing program in all its schools. This program can be a powerful mitigation strategy when most of our students and staff participate.  Consent for testing is needed on an annual basis.  
    • The district will also take advantage of the additional testing services DESE is offering to schools.  These include “Symptomatic” Testing (for when students present symptoms in school) and “Test and Stay” Testing related to symptomatic testing (for when individuals are in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual).
    • The district will be sending out additional information regarding our testing program and a Consent Form to all families next week.  We urge all parents and guardians to sign up their children for participation in this program.

  1. What are the district procedures related to physical distancing?  What about lunch?

Masking provides the best protection in preventing COVID-19 transmissions.  While we will continue to be mindful of distancing, we will not have specific physical distancing mandates in place.  

Weather permitting, students will be eating lunch outside at the elementary and middle level; this will negate the need for masks and physical distancing.  At the high school there will be opportunities for students to eat outside and in the cafe.  In all of our buildings, when the need arises for students to eat inside, our schools will implement physical distancing measures as students will be unmasked during this time.  If you have a question about specifics related to how an individual school will be organizing indoor lunch and practicing physical distancing, please reach out to your child’s principal.  Given that all our buildings are different, the procedures in each school will vary.

  1. Will the HWRSD continue to require the Daily Health Check?

No, the district will no longer require that parents complete a daily health check for their child. We will return to the “Pre-COVID” procedure of asking parents to call their child in sick and provide a reason for his/her absences.  As in the past, our school nurses may follow-up with families regarding their child’s illness.


  1. My child is immunocompromised and in-person learning does not feel safe to me. Is there a remote option this year? 

Unfortunately, remote learning is no longer an option in the upcoming school year per the Commissioner of Education. Please refer to the DESE COVID-19 guidance issued on May 27, 2021, page 4:

"Districts will no longer be able to offer remote learning as a standard learning model. As noted above, districts and schools will be required to be in-person, full-time, five days a week this fall. Pathways that existed prior to the pandemic for offering virtual learning to individual students in limited cases will remain available to districts and schools. These include home/hospital tutoring programs due to a documented medical condition, 3 single district virtual schools, and other narrow circumstances. "

  1.  How will the masking policy impact athletics?

In keeping with our masking policy, outdoor sports will not require masks and indoor sports will.  For the fall season, this means that volleyball athletes will need to wear masks when participating in their sport.

  1. What are the current travel restrictions? Will I be able to travel out of state without a quarantine? 

Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Guidance suggests that if you are vaccinated there are no restrictions on domestic travel, and you can travel freely. Here are the CDC’s travel recommendations for unvaccinated individuals, including a viral test 3-5 days after and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. Since children under the age of 12 are ineligible for a vaccine, we anticipate that many families will have questions about the rules. For example, someone may own a vacation home in New Hampshire where they have no contact with others and the rates of infection are lower than in some areas of Massachusetts. Do we require these individuals to quarantine under these circumstances? We ask all HWRSD families and staff to follow the State’s travel guidance. Qualifying special conditions include serious family emergencies/illnesses, deaths, and custody arrangements. If you have questions, please contact your school nurse. 

Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District
5 School St Wenham, MA 01984 Phone: 978-468-5310 Directions | Contact Us | Sitemap

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