Conn. DPH releases new guidelines for use of face masks in schools – NBC Connecticut

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has released new guidelines for schools on the use of face masks.

DPH officials said school boards, district administrators and other local decision-makers should consider several factors before deciding whether or not masks should be required indoors.

The department has provided questions for schools to consider when considering COVID-19 policy changes, including mask mandates or the transition to optional mask policies.

Below is a list of suggested questions:

  • What does the available data indicate regarding the prevalence and transmission of COVID-19 in the community and district?
  • What is the risk tolerance for the possibility of increased cases and the necessary quarantine and isolation of your students and staff?
  • What is the current COVID-19 vaccination status of students and staff at individual schools and in the district, and what is the current COVID-19 vaccination coverage for the surrounding community?
  • What additional planning is required to accommodate the needs of students and staff who may be at higher risk of adverse health effects?
  • What additional guidance is needed to ensure support for students and staff who wish to continue wearing a mask?
  • What processes need to be in place for continuous risk assessment and
    decision-making regarding COVID-19 mitigation policies and strategies (including the use of masks) in the future?
  • What advanced contingency planning needs to take place to prepare for possible outbreaks and/or epidemics?

DPH officials stressed that people of school age who are generally healthy and up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines are at a lower risk of developing serious consequences if infected.

“Prior to making any significant changes to mitigation strategies in schools (including universal use of masks), DPH and the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) are encouraging school districts to examine and discuss the unique complexities of school environments, the environmental conditions inside their school buildings, the health of their school populations, and the conditions in their immediate and surrounding communities,” the guide states.

Health officials continue to recommend that all eligible students and staff get vaccinated against COVID-19, including reminders.

School officials are also advised to support students and staff who wish to continue wearing masks, even when school policies do not require it.

The statewide mask mandate for schools and daycares is set to expire at the end of the month.

DPH and the Department of Education said they are providing public health advice to schools across the state as levels of COVID-19 decline in the state.

Hartford and Waterbury Public Schools have announced that they will retain their mask mandates for the time being.

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