Medical Advisory Team proposes adaptive masking policy


Ellie Ouano

Senior Delaney Veradt wears a mask in Ceramics class on Friday, Nov. 12.

Ben Schanzer, News Editor

The District Medical Advisory Team (MAT) recommended to the Regional School Committee (RSC) that an adaptive masking policy be implemented at Algonquin at a Dec. 15 meeting.

Because Algonquin meets state regulations regarding removing masks in school, a waiver was granted allowing the RSC to remove the mandate if they choose. The state awards the waiver to districts who apply and are able to demonstrate they meet certain COVID-19-related metrics.

The MAT, which serves as an advisory committee to Superintendent Greg Martineau and the RSC, considers COVID-19 data to create and modify their recommendations. At the meeting, District Wellness Coordinator Mary Ellen Duggan proposed an adaptive masking policy on behalf of the MAT that would be implemented at ARHS if all the following criteria is met:

  • 80% vaccination rate (achieved)
  • DESE masking waiver approved (achieved)
  • Less than 1% positivity rate each week (12 cases) (achieved since October but subject to change)

If one of the criteria is no longer achieved, a mandatory masking policy would go back into effect for a two-week period and would remain in effect until the MAT analyzes the data and determines that it is safe to remove masks again. According to Duggan’s presentation, the MAT does not believe now is the time to remove masks.

During the meeting, Martineau stated his support for the proposed policy and stated that if the mask mandate were to be lifted, Algonquin staff would not police any masking, despite some requirements remaining for unvaccinated individuals and close contacts.

RSC Member Daniel Kolenda expressed confusion at the reasoning behind the 1% metric, asking if the number is rooted in government guidelines or other data. Duggan said it is based on the capability of the health office to contact-trace while simultaneously providing care to students who visit the health office.

Duggan said that masking would still be required on buses and during athletic events, regardless of the adoption of a new policy.

The School Committee opted to table the discussion until their January meeting. In the meantime, members of the MAT and the RSC Policy Subcommittee will work to draft a concrete policy that will be voted on.