Belmont Schools Start An Hour Later Monday For Masks, Possible Covid Testing For Teachers

Photo: A KN95 mask will be given to Belmont educators and staff on Monday, Jan. 3 (Credit: ProtoplasmaKid Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0)

Belmont’s six public schools will return from the holiday break on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022 with an hour delay in start times to allow teachers and staff to be equipped with state-issued KN95 masks so educators will comply with new Covid-19 guidelines which the state’s Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary Education have adopted for all school districts.

Start times with a one-hour delay are:

  • Belmont High School: 8:35 a.m. with first classes at 9 a.m.
  • Chenery Middle School: 8:55 a.m.
  • Burbank, Butler, and Wellington: 9:40 a.m.
  • Winn Brook: 9:50 a.m.

In addition to the delay:

  • Morning preschool sessions are cancelled on Monday, Jan. 3.
  • LABBB Collaborative Administration has cancelled for Monday. Jan. 3.
  • If your child(ren) attends a before-school program, the program leaders will communicate directly with parents and guardians about their plans for Monday morning.

In addition to the masks, staff will take Covid-19 tests if the state-provided kits arrive by Monday morning, a press release issued on Jan. 1, 2022 from the Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan. The one-hour lead time will also allow school nurses to answer emails concerning health questions from parents and guardians.

 “If you have emailed the nurse with a question about a COVID scenario, please keep your student home until you receive a response from the nurse,” said Phelan.

The delay comes after two state teacher unions called for schools to be closed on Monday to allow teachers to be tested over concerns of potential exposure to the Covid-19 virus during the holiday vacation. During the past week, Massachusetts recorded the highest infection rate since the beginning of the pandemic with more than 21,100 new cases.

Adherence to the guidelines

“Our Belmont community has done a great job since September monitoring symptoms and staying home when sick,” said Phelan. “Your conscientious adherence to the guidelines has allowed us to keep schools open. Following the guidelines will be even more important in the coming days and weeks as we face the increase in cases due to the Omicron variant.”

Reminders and recommendations are:

  1. Use the symptom checker every morning. Submit the form to your school nurse and keep your student home if they exhibit symptoms.
  2. Send your student to school with the best masks possible. N95, KN95, or KF94 masks are recommended for the best protection. The district has purchased additional masks as a back-up for students if needed.
  3. If you haven’t already done so, register your student for Routine COVID Pooled Testing. Here is the link to register. Pooled testing is important for vaccinated students as well. 
  4. Get your student vaccinated and boosted. 
  5. If you have access to at-home testing, please use this as an additional safety measure. We are reviewing our ability to modify our pool-testing schedule.

“This year it has been our primary goal to open safely and to remain open. We remain committed to this goal through our multiple mitigation strategies, which include universal masking, air purifiers in all classrooms, strict adherence to monitoring symptoms and staying home when sick, participating in pooled testing, and getting vaccinated and boosted when eligible. We are reviewing protocols for all aspects of the school day, especially lunch and snack, in order to maximize social distancing,” said Phelan.

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