Dear PPS Families,
Thank you for your support as we navigate the transition away from mandated masking. PPS continues to encourage masking, however, new guidelines and protocols are now in place to reflect the guidance by the NJ Department of Health.
As we take one step forward by relaxing COVID masking protocols, please remember that this is just the first step. All other protocols remain in place, and in some ways, are even more important.
Many students will continue to wear masks, but masking is absolutely crucial for vulnerable students, students who are immunocompromised, or students with vulnerable family members. There are still a number of people in our PPS community who are at high risk of serious illness or who have family members too young for vaccination. The continued (voluntary) use of high-quality masks will help protect vulnerable classmates and staff members. The CDC recently revised its list of conditions that pose a higher risk of severe illness from Covid. Please see this CDC link. The list now has a disability category and includes ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, birth defects, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities.
Fortunately, we have a high vaccination rate in our community. Our high vaccination rate has enabled us to keep our schools open and limit the number of students or staff who are required to quarantine after an exposure.
At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that contact tracing will now involve using a 6-foot radius around the infected individual. Previously, with universal masking, we were able to use a 3-foot radius for students who were appropriately masked and sitting in front facing rows.
As we transition away from mandated masking, PPS will continue to adhere to social distancing in the classroom and other areas of our schools.
- Student desks will be kept at a distance of 3 to 6 feet depending on the space available in each individual classroom.
- Teachers and instructional assistants will maintain 6 feet of distance from students. If a student needs assistance, they will assist and back away in an effort to limit the amount of time in close contact with a student during a 24-hour period.
- Students will continue to be distanced during indoor or outdoor lunch. This is an important mitigation strategy to prevent virus spread.
- Staff will encourage vulnerable and at-risk students to wear a mask at all times if their parents make this decision.
- Schools will continue appropriate distancing during all school activities.
- PPS will work with the Princeton Department of Health to monitor COVID level and trends in the schools and community.
Individual Masking Decisions
- School principals, with the help of school counselors, are working on providing lessons, messaging, and other ways to support individual choice for mask wearing. We want to prevent peer pressure that could influence a student who prefers to wear a mask to take it off.
- Teachers and other staff will monitor students when possible and support individual choice.
- We will reinforce the importance of sensitivity.
- Although we encourage masking, we are not requiring masking. Staff and students can make the decision to not wear a mask at all in school.
- In a few situations in our schools, staff members must be in close proximity (within 3 feet) to a student for an extended period of time. For instance, during a Child Study Team evaluation, which could involve testing of an hour or more. In addition, other testing and therapy situation may involve close contact for more than 15 minutes. In these situations, the teacher, related service provider, or CST member will make advance arrangements with parents and students if the student needs to wear a mask.
- During activities when students need to be in close proximity for 15 minutes or more (such as during science lab activities), even if a student is not wearing a mask all day, students are encouraged to wear a mask during the activity. Again, this is not required, but encouraged.
- Child Study Team meetings will continue to be virtual unless a parent specifically requests an in-person meeting. The meeting would then have to be scheduled in a larger space such as the conference rooms at the Valley Road Administration Building. If this was to occur, the teacher may have to participate virtually due to scheduling constraints.
- We will continue to limit visitors to our schools. Parents with appointments who enter a building are encouraged, but not required, to wear a mask. PPS will continue to require social distancing when any visitor is in our schools.
- Masking is encouraged but not required on all buses.
- Buses will continue to have open windows and plastic around the driver.
- Buses will be disinfected between runs.
Student and Staff COVID Testing
- Weekly Mirimus testing will continue for our students.
- Additionally, twice weekly testing by Praxis of unvaccinated staff will continue.
- District News