Mount Vernon Community School District Families, Staff Members, and Community Members:
Last evening, the Mount Vernon Community School District School Board voted to approve a mask mandate for students in grades PK-6. Staff members working with students in grades PK-6 will also be required to wear masks while working with the students. This mandate goes into effect on Thursday, September 23, 2021 (tomorrow). We will work on Thursday and Friday to get everyone back in the routine of mask wearing in the school setting.
Data related to the mask mandate decision will be reviewed on a weekly basis by a metrics review team that will consist of myself, the two school nurses, one principal, and three district parents. One parent is an expert in data analysis, one is a local physician, and another is in a healthcare and sciences field. The group represents a cross section of beliefs on mask wearing, and is a group I trust to objectively study data and make solid recommendations to the Board. The team will review a series of data points to determine if there is a downward trend in COVID-19 cases, and other factors that may lead the team to encourage the Board to reconsider its mandate. It will also pay attention to trends that could lead to extending the mandate to other grade levels should there be a strong upward trend in cases. Additionally, the Board voted to discontinue this current mandate 60 days after a vaccine becomes available for children under the age of 12. It is the hope that the vaccination may be available as early as late October or early November.
If you wish for your child to be considered for an exemption from the mask mandate, forms will be available beginning tomorrow at Washington Elementary and Mount Vernon Middle School. Forms are also available at the District Office. Please note that the form must be signed by a medical official or religious leader, and that the District reserves the right to ask for further supporting documentation regarding the requested exemption. The form must also be notarized. I will review and act upon your exemption request as quickly as possible (within one to two days), and ask that your children wear masks until I can review the application. Asking for an exemption on medical, religious, or social-emotional grounds is a serious matter, and please give it thought as to why it is needed for your child. I ask that you do not use exemptions as a tool to avoid a mandate with which you personally disagree. Also, remote learning options remain available to you if you wish to consider that pathway for learning. Please contact me if you have questions about remote learning options.
I know this issue is an emotional one for people on both sides of the mask wearing issue. I am asking that you comply with the mask mandate even though you may be personally opposed to it, as you are compliant with other school policies and practices. I ask that you do not put the kids in the middle of this debate, and that they can come to school and engage in learning with their favorite and talented teachers while wearing masks just as they did successfully last year. If your child is struggling with mask wearing from a social-emotional perspective, please let us know and we will help them. If there is a pattern of noncompliance with a student regarding the wearing of masks, we will contact the parents to discuss the issue more in depth.
Thank you for your understanding and your passion for your children as we continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic. While we assume that most families will provide their own masks as was the case last year, we will have masks available beginning tomorrow to distribute to students in need of them. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you would like to meet with me to discuss these issues more in depth.