This week there was an acceleration of districts shifting to mask-optional policies as several states moved up their dates for allowing local...
Week of 5/16: Mask Advisory
This week we look at districts revising policies in the face of rising Covid 19 rates, put some numbers on planned ESSER III spending on Mental Health and Physical Health, and look at how ESSER III dollars are being deployed on safety and security.
- Rising Covid 19 rates in Maine had an effect. MSAD 15, ME went remote on May 12th and 13th due to Covid 19-related staff absences. Portland Public Schools, ME is requiring masks as of May 12 due to rising case rates. "Cumberland County is now categorized as "red" or "high" by the federal CDC COVID-19 Community Levels tracker. Our pooled testing results and local wastewater data also indicate high positivity rates," writes the Superintendent. Bangor School Department, ME went to mask-required on May 9th.
- Benton Harbor Charter School, MI went remote for two days this week due to "staff Covid exposure."
- Pittsburgh Public Schools reinstated a mask mandate less than two weeks after removing it.
- Back on April 19th Chelsea Public Schools, MA voted to go mask optional on May 9th, but when that date arrived things changed. "When that vote occurred, COVID-19 rates were lower than they are right now," reported the district this past week. "As of today, the CDC has identified the Suffolk County COVID-19 community level as “High”, which includes a recommendation to wear masks indoors. Therefore, we will continue with our mask requirement."
- Chappaqua Central School District, NY has made several adjustments in relation to rising Covid 19 rates, including moving elementary and middle school lunches and assemblies outside (weather permitting), postponing several concerts into mid-June, and opening windows on buses and in classrooms as much as possible.
- Across many districts where masks are still optional, we are seeing a shift in tone. Cambridge Public Schools, MA announced a "Mask Advisory," writing "we are encouraging our entire school community to mask, particularly when we are indoors. Please note that we are NOT reinstating a requirement but advising mask use based on current data."
- Laytonville Unified School District, CA reports an increase in Covid 19 case rates and “CDPH currently strongly recommends (bold emphasis theirs) that individuals…continue to mask in indoor settings. Masking will continue to be an important layer of protection along with the continued recommendations around vaccinations, testing and ventilation, to keep schools a safe environment, even as case rates and hospitalizations decline.” Union School District, CA added a mask mandate back in just one elementary school due to case rates in that facility.
- District 300, Algonquin, IL reports "some District 300 schools are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases" and "While masking in District 300 remains optional (bold emphasis theirs) per the CDC guidance, District 300 recommends (emphasis theirs) students and staff wear face masks in the school setting."
- Baltimore City Schools, MD posted that the Baltimore City Health Commissioner "recommended wearing a mask in indoor public spaces. We encourage – but do not require – that people follow the recommendation of the Baltimore City Health Department."
- Hawaii Public Schools will require masks indoors all summer.
The following chart gives an overview of the sub-categories that make up that spending, as well as the percentage of districts spending on those subcategories:
- Scottsboro City School District, AL ($3.94MM) will use some funds to "upgrade security camera systems in all schools to assist in contact tracing to mitigate the spread of COVID; install control access doors to mitigate the spread of COVID in high traffic areas . . .(install) an emergency intercom system within all school campuses within the district to reduce the number of assemblies during the year to ensure proper social distancing and reduce the occurrences of creating large crowds. . . "
- Desert Sands Unified School District, CA ($55.9MM) will hire a patrol agent to "address increased transient problems, theft at school sites, and safety monitoring," buy software that "aligns with state-based disaster and emergency requirements and allows schools to manage needs, to include prevention, response and recovery," as well as purchase a variety of cyber-security related software and network upgrades. Twin Rivers Unified, CA ($121.7MM) will spend just over $2.3MM on salaries for police and a campus safety specialist.
- Espiranza Academy Charter School, PA ($11.5MM) - will "upgrade the HS main entrance security station to offer protection for the security staff as well as the management of new technology and safety protocols," add "Signage (to) identify check-in points, traffic lows, entry points, security check-ins, etc. and post signage throughout the school buildings to indicate these expectations," plus purchase sprinklers and fire alarms.
- Danbury Public Schools, CT ($25MM) will spend $500,000 for "security upgrades throughout the entire district."
- Johnson County School District 01, WY ($3.6MM) will be spending just over $300,000 on new building security cameras as well as "active shooter" and incident training.
- Allegany County Public Schools, MD ($25.3MM) will spend $900,000 on a camera system to monitor "masking and crowding," indicating a reference to use for both building security and Covid 19 mitigation.
- Orange County Public Schools, FL ($538MM) will be spending on software security licenses for 2,400 staff, audio upgrades to intercom systems, and the hiring of a Manager of Safety and Security.
- Vance County Schools, NC ($24.4MM) will be spending $500,000 on a variety of initiatives to improve preparedness and response.
- North East ISD, TX ($117.1MM) will be spending $1.4MM on card readers.