Yesterday the WSSD superintendent sent out an email about a special board meeting on Aug. 2nd (presumably at 7 pm) to discuss mitigation strategies for the return to in-person school in the fall. Throughout the country, Covid rates are rising rapidly, though unevenly. Southern and western states are already showing rates almost as high as their previous peaks. Pennsylvania and surrounding states with higher vaccination rates are rising more slowly.
A recent DelCo Times article gives the numbers of people receiving one shot, but not the numbers for full vaccinations unfortunately. The one-shot number sits at 60% of the total population, still too low to provide herd immunity. According to the state’s Covid dashboard, Covid rates in DelCo have gone from a low of ~10 cases/day around the beginning of July to ~30/day in recent weeks. Although this is approaching the Covid numbers of last summer, the test positivity rate at 1.4% remains lower than last summer as testing is more widely available.
The proposed WSSD rules are logically inconsistent. They are requiring kindergarteners who can’t get vaccinated to wear masks while indoors, but making no such requirement for those 12+ that have refused to get vaccinated. This is most dangerous for the middle school, where those refusing vaccination will mix with those that cannot yet get vaccinated. If we’re going to mandate masks for our youngest schoolchildren, surely its not too much to expect those refusing to take the steps needed to protect the community to at least wear masks indoors?
The latest NY Times story about vaccinations for those 5-12 suggests Pfizer will submit data around the end of September. Regulator approval will follow that some weeks later, so we’re looking at almost Thanksgiving before most schoolchildren are likely to be vaccinated, assuming Pfizer vaccines are readily available.
Superintendent Marseille’s email is below.
I hope this communication finds you well and you had a relaxing weekend. As you are aware, no decision has been easy as it relates to COVID -19.
The administration has been collaborating with several health agencies to guide our decision-making with implementing and revising our Health and Safety Plan. Two critical components of the new Health and Safety Plan will focus on masking and physical distancing.
I wanted to inform you that I have scheduled a Special Board meeting on August 2nd to share my recommendations and the mitigation strategies for our in-person return in the Fall.
At this time, and with the most recent guidance, I will be presenting to the Board my recommendation that students who are younger than 12 years of age will be required to be masked while indoors. Unvaccinated individuals over 12 years of age, will be asked to wear a mask, but it will not be mandated. Furthermore, the District will return to three feet of physical distancing as an additional mitigation strategy. I know many will disagree with my recommendation and my decision to present this option to the Board. The Board will hear my recommendation, have an opportunity to ask questions, listen to community input and make a decision.
I look forward to your participation and voice on August 2nd when the District will present in its entirety the Health and Safety Plan.
Wagner Marseille, Ed.D