Mashpee Public Schools Superintendent Patricia M. DeBoer announced this year’s COVID-19 safety measures during a Mashpee School Committee meeting Wednesday, August 25.
In addition to a face covering mandate, students will sit at desks three feet apart in the classroom. Desks will face the same direction, but there will be more opportunity for collaboration between students than last year.
Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes will be available in all classrooms.
For lunch, students will eat in the cafeteria all facing in the same direction and spaced a few feet apart from one another. They are encouraged to bring in water bottles, as water bottle refilling stations will be turned on but water fountains will not. Faculty and staff can provide water bottles if needed.
Free meals will be available for all students as well as prepackaged “Grab and Go” breakfast and lunches.
The schools plan to have after-school activities open and athletics play their typical seasons. Volleyball players will be masked during indoor practices and games, but all other athletes will play without face coverings.
A late bus will be available for students who stay after school. Students must wear masks on all school buses in accordance with a federal public health order. Attendance will not be taken on buses, but seating plans will be enforced.
Seating plans will keep track of students whereabouts on buses and in the cafeteria and classroom. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the school can track who was sitting near them and contact those students’ families.
Mashpee Middle-High School is “tentatively” staying with a block schedule, the superintendent said. The elementary schools will not be forming cohorts for special classes such as art and technology.
No visitors are permitted into school buildings.
Ms. DeBoer said the administration will encourage staff and students to participate in pool testing again this year, a COVID-19 testing method that involves combining samples from several people into one batch to be screened for the virus together. Students, staff and faculty who participate will have a nasal swab taken and put in an individual testing tube. If a batch’s rapid test comes back positive, individual test tubes will then be tested to identify the positive COVID swab.
Parents and students are also encouraged to fill out daily self-checks on their health. The district nurse will be available to give guidance to families during weekends and evenings.
The district is not requiring teachers to get vaccinated, but Ms. DeBoer said the majority of teachers already are.