August Family & Community Letter (8/17/2021)

August 17, 2021

Dear CCSD Families and Community Members:

CCSD is excited for the new school year, meeting our new students and their families, and welcoming back our returning students. 

We have all been following current events related to the start of a new school year and schools reopening across the nation.  Unfortunately, one aspect that hasn’t changed is the need for us to collectively respond and adjust to the intricacies of living, working, and operating schools during a pandemic.  One major aspect of CCSD’s preparations for the new school year is the development of our school-wide mitigation and prevention plans.  Last spring, the CCSD School Board developed the CCSD Board Mitigation Advisory Committee to develop recommendations for the Board’s consideration as we prepare for the start of a new school.  The CCSD Board Mitigation Advisory Committee has met twice during the summer and proposed an initial plan that the Board adopted during the June 23, 2021, meeting.  The Committee reconvened on Tuesday, August 10 to review our current plan and to make additional recommendations for the Board’s consideration for the August 25, 2021, School Board meeting. 

The item that received the most attention during the Committee’s meetings was CCSD’s mask policy.  The Committee was unable to come to a consensus regarding a recommendation to the CCSD Board for the August 25 meeting.  The Committee developed two options for the Board’s consideration for Section 1 Masks and Section 2 Physical Distancing of the CCSD ARPA Mitigation and Prevention Plan.  One option centers on a tiered mask policy that uses the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services alert level designations for each region in the state:  low, moderate, substantial, and high.  The other option centers on a mask policy that recognizes individual parent rights and decisions regarding mask choice for their child(ren). 

Outlined below are the two mask policy options that are being presented for the Board’s consideration.

Option 1

CCSD will follow a layered approach to mitigation, with mask policies dependent on local conditions.

Per CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html),  Updated Aug. 5, 2021

  • Due to the circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • In addition to universal indoor masking, CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as screening testing.

(see #2 Physical Distancing for information about 3 feet and 6 feet distances)

If the alert level on Prince of Wales Island is “high” (red) or “substantial” (orange), all students, teachers, staff, and visitors will practice universal indoor masking.

If the alert level on Prince of Wales Island is “moderate” (yellow) or “low” (blue), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) masks are required by staff and students when working directly with each other and physical distancing cannot be maintained.  Masks will be required in the Craig Middle School and Craig High School during passing periods and when students are accessing lockers.  Masks will be required in the Craig Elementary School hallways when students arrive at school in the morning and are exiting the building after school.

The alert level will be determined by Craig Public Health.  It will reflect cases over the previous 7 days on Prince of Wales Island, and will use the same methodology as Alaska DHSS uses to designate alert levels for each region in the state.

For all alert levels, visitors and volunteers will be permitted upon approval, on a case-by-case basis, when the use of volunteers is essential for the safety and supervision of students (i.e. outdoor field trips).  All visitors and volunteers will be temperature screened and are required to wear masks when working directly with staff and students and 6 feet social distancing cannot be maintained.

Field trip/activity locations are allowed if the activity is outside and students with staff can either walk to the location with appropriate social distancing, or if using district vehicles students will be required to wear masks when appropriate social distancing cannot be adhered to.

Option 2

CCSD Strongly Recommends Following CDC Guidance; However Respects Mask Choice.

In consultation with state and local public health representatives, CCSD strongly recommends that students, staff, and all school visitors follow the CDC guidance of universal indoor masking in all school facilities during school hours.  However, CCSD also recognizes individual and parent/guardian choice with regard to masking.  CCSD will encourage staff, students, and all school visitors follow the suggested CDC guidelines, but will respect individual rights and decisions regarding “mask choice.”

Mask Choice does not apply in the following circumstances:

  • Mandated mask wearing as directed by Public Health Representatives.
  • CCSD mitigation plans for athletics or special events/activities requiring mask wearing.

To allow for transparency, CCSD highly recommends “mask choice” be carefully considered given the current Public Health “Close Contact Tracing Process” as detailed on page # of the CCSD ARPA Mitigation and Prevention Plan.

Attached with this letter is the “updated” CCSD ARPA Mitigation and Prevention Plan that the Committee is moving forward to the CCSD Board for their August 25 meeting.  This item will be an Old Business item.  Please note that red strikethrough language is language the Committee is recommending the Board delete from the plan and bold green language is new language the Committee is recommending the Board add to the plan. 

After the August 25 CCSD School Board meeting, CCSD will email the updated plan to all parents and will post it on the CCSD website for reference.   In closing, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the phone number listed above or the email address below if I can provide additional information about any of the items noted in this letter. 

Sincerely,

Chris Reitan, CCSD Superintendent                                                             

Email: creitan@craigschools.com