"School districts that required masks this fall saw significantly fewer coronavirus cases than those where masks were optional, according to a large study of Arkansas schools by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC looked at 233 school districts and found those with mask requirements saw a 23 percent lower incidence of coronavirus cases. Rates in districts with partial requirements — for instance, places that required them in hallways but not classrooms — were in between.
“Masks remain an important part of a multicomponent approach to preventing Covid-19 in K-12 settings, especially in communities with high Covid-19 community levels,” concluded the study, which published Tuesday."
Providing accurate and timely information about what matters in Franklin, MA since 2007. * Working in collaboration with Franklin TV and Radio (wfpr.fm) since October 2019 *
Thursday, March 10, 2022
Gee, masks really work. Good to know in advance of when the next wave comes!
Friday, February 18, 2022
School Committee Special Mtg - 02/16/22 (audio) responding to an OPML complaint and amending the mask policy
FM #732 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 732 in the series.
This session of the radio show shares the Special School Committee meeting held Wednesday, Feb 16, 2022.
There are two items on the agenda, one a response to an Open Meeting Law violation claim, and the second, the school district mask policy now that DESE has ended their state rule effect Feb 28, 2022.
Scheduled for 5 PM, the meeting actually begins at 5:26 PM and runs 55 minutes.
Meeting agenda-> https://www.franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/agendas/scagenda_2-16-22_special_mtg.pdf
My notes -> https://www.franklinmatters.org/2022/02/recap-school-committee-meeting-responds.html
We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (wfpr.fm) or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial.
This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.
How can you help?
If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
If you don't like something here, please let me know
Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.
For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/ or www.franklin.news/
If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com
The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.
I hope you enjoy!
You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
School Committee amends policy so "that masks will not be universally required" effective 2/28/22
Dear Franklin Public Schools Community Members,
Earlier this evening, the Franklin School Committee voted to amend the policy on Masks and Face Coverings (Policy EBCFA) so that masks will not be universally required as follows:
- It is strongly recommended that unvaccinated or otherwise immunocompromised individuals wear masks in school buildings, and on school grounds, even when social distancing is observed.
- Individuals who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear a mask, but may do so if desired.
This language will be in effect on Monday, February 28, 2022 for all schools in Franklin, as the current DESE mask mandate will not be extended beyond that time.
Principals will be working with their staff on communicating this change to students so that children are prepared for school on February 28, 2022. We will emphasize the importance of being kind and respecting the choices that others make. We ask that families reinforce this with children over February break and in advance of their children's return to school. Counselors are available for students who may be experiencing anxiety with this change. Please contact your child’s school.
Please Note: Masks will still be required under certain circumstances as follows:
- Masks will still be required on buses/school transportation (per federal order)
- Masks will still be required in health offices (per DPH for health facilities)
- Masks will still be required for individuals testing as COVID-positive and returning to school from isolation on day 6 or later through day 10 (per DPH and CDC protocols)
- For MIAA athletic events and some other activities, mask rules are up to host-school or venue-specific rules. Therefore, depending on the venue, a mask may be required.
The decision for moving to a mask optional approach involved the examination of numerous data points, as noted on the attached slide show.
With COVID case counts dropping, we will be moving towards a weekly summary, rather than daily communications of COVID cases affecting our schools. This will begin Wednesday, March 2. This may be unsettling for community members, especially with masks becoming optional on February 28, but the premise of our response remains the same: we have many layered mitigation strategies in our schools including ventilation. Individuals may want to consider opting to mask, may want to consider vaccinations or boosters (if unvaccinated), may sign up for rapid antigen testing, should monitor for symptoms, and may wish to sign up for symptomatic testing.
For families or faculty/staff who wish to opt-in for rapid antigen testing and/or symptomatic testing, please visit our website and click on the links to sign up. https://sites.google.com/
A community vaccine clinic for children ages 5-11 is being held at the Franklin Senior Center on February 23 from 9-10 AM or 3-5 PM. Sign ups can occur here: https://home.color.com/
Each change that we’ve experienced through the pandemic has come with mixed feelings among students, staff, and families. We have navigated each change, with new tools and successively fewer restrictions, successfully, minimizing the impact of COVID in our school community.
I implore everyone to treat each other respectfully as we move into this next phase of our management of COVID. We will certainly be communicating this message to our students prior to and upon their return from February vacation.
Superintendent of Schools
|School Committee amends policy so "that masks will not be universally required" effective 2/28/22|
Monday, February 14, 2022
Superintendent Letter to Franklin Community re: Special Meeting Feb 16, 2022
Dear Franklin Community,
Without a state order, the decision on masking falls to local decision making. The Franklin School Committee is holding a special meeting on Wednesday, February 16, 2022 at 5:00 PM to discuss masking.
Masking will continue to be required on all school buses, per federal order. Masking is also required, per DPH, in school health offices.
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Franklin, MA: School Committee - Special Meeting - Feb 16, 2022 - 5 PM
A. Response to Open Meeting Law complaint against public officers, namely themembers of the School Committee, filed with the Committee by Kyle Thompsonand dated February 3, 2022.
A. Policy EBCFA – Face Coverings
MIAA follows DESE allowing mask guidelines to expire Feb 28, 2022;
"An update on #MIAA Mask Guidelines #OneTeamOneMIAA #patience #theendisnear " https://t.co/kDHsqSnYjvShared from Twitter: https://twitter.com/MIAA033/status/1492210011082309638
|MIAA follows DESE in mask guidelines allowing them to expire Feb 28, 2022|
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
DESE "will not renew the state mask requirement after it expires on February 28, 2022"
"Please see the following release from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education https://t.co/Ao8cJFbwFq" or here
Shared from Twitter -> https://twitter.com/MASCSchoolComm/status/1491432725072707585
DESE update on mask policy, allowing expiration as of Feb 28, 2022 -> https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop/2022-0209mask-requirement-update.pdf
Other DESE policy statements, etc. https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop.html
|DESE "will not renew the state mask requirement after it expires on February 28, 2022"|
Sunday, January 2, 2022
Urgent - Franklin Public Schools: 2 Hour Delay - Monday, Jan 3, 2022
2 Hour Delay 1/3/2022
Dear FPS Community,
There will be a 2-hour delayed opening for students on Monday, January 3, 2022. Faculty and staff report on time. Please see the Superintendent's email from January 1 for additional details.
Franklin Public Schools
Superintendent's letter -> https://www.franklinmatters.org/2022/01/franklin-public-schools-email-on.html
|Franklin Public Schools: Urgent - 2 Hour Delay - Monday, Jan 3, 2022|
Monday, December 20, 2021
Boston Globe: "What happens when students remove masks? These Mass. schools are finding out"
"By lunchtime Thursday, word had spread through Hopkinton High School about a slew of basketball players testing positive for COVID-19. Already far more students had begun wearing face-coverings in the school, which in November became the first in Massachusetts to allow vaccinated students to go mask-less.Over lunch, five senior boys expressed anxiety. They hoped the school board that night would temporarily reinstate the school’s mask mandate. But other students wanted the relaxed mask policies, which they didn’t believe caused the outbreak, to continue. Two sophomore girls in the library studied without masks, happy to see each other’s smiles. They felt the mask-choice policy gave them something elusive in the past two years: a typical high school experience.“Last year, it felt like you couldn’t talk to anyone who wasn’t your friend,” said Sophie Weeden, 15. “This year, it’s gotten back to a little more normal — it’s so much better.”
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Recap: School Committee hears update on MCAS results; votes to implement optional mask for vaccinated students; votes on MOU for FEA
- MCAS performance declined during the pandemic, work ongoing to meet students where they are and bring them to the level appropriate for them
- Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion job description approved. The position will be posted and anticipated to be hired for approx. March 2021 or July 2021 depending upon potential candidate and timing
- Optional mask for FHS vaccinated students/faculty approval received from DESE (one of 11 districts thus far), plan for implementation approved by 4-3 vote; most voting against seemed to be looking to delay start until Jan 2022
- Open Meeting Complaint acknowledged but no action required. Complainer alleged violation but meeting had been gaveled to a break and then returned to open meeting after the disturbance was resolved (my twitter notes acknowledged such a comment from a Zoom participant during the meeting in question)
- Entered Executive Session and returned to ratify the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Franklin Education Association (FEA) by 7-0 roll call vote and close the meeting
As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter while I attended the meeting in the Council Chambers.
The Twitter hashtag #schcom1123 can be found online The thread begins with
Photos captured during the meeting can be found in one album ->
- Meeting packet folder -> https://franklinps.net/district/meeting-packets/pages/november-23-2021-school-committee-meeting-packet… Meeting agenda doc -> https://franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/uploads/scagenda_11-23-21.pdf… #schcom1123
- no citizen comments this evening, next to Supt report, Mamma Mia was well done! kudos to the cast, crew, etc. #schcom1123; Congrats to fall athletic teams; football Thanksgiving vs. KP; robotics did well at WPI in soccer championship there
- parent teacher conf happened recently; more in person at elem, more remote at middle, even more at FHS; 2nd round for elementary in March; acknowledge Critical Conversations event last Thursday - thanks to those participating #schcom1123
- slides and resources to be shared soon, will share once available - #schcom1123 approx. 80 between online and in person. role of student representatives - per state law, ex officio and no voting; generally FHS students are student class officers
- lucky to have the SAFE resource here in the community; #schcom1123 DESE offering some funding via grant for hate crime work, apps due 12/8
- next up, MCAS presentation - doc shared earlier, putting it in context as this is not a 'normal' report https://drive.google.com/file/d/19XOmQtVz2_MPrymgtUgQkIclhH3xgqMy/view?usp=sharing… #schcom1123
- internet apparently went out, still live via Franklin TV - should be back soon; meeting continues #schcom1123
- student growth metric (SGP) is a concern; esp. in Gr 10 math where Franklin was lower than State (altho DESE says difference is insignificant) #schcom1123
- "recording in progress" announcement says the system is back #schcom1123 areas of strength slide high participation rate (i.e. 95 to 100%) vs about 90% at state
- areas for growth slide - achievement gaps being addressed, esp across all the high needs students #schcom1123 Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) an assessment system being used to help drive approach to meet needs of students
- NWEA assessment tool piloted last spring, implemented in the fall for grades K-8 #schcom1123 working to ensure educators have the same base of understanding on the assessments and resources, tools
- round of #schcom1123 member questions, comments; interested to see next years results - while participation was high, it was a decline from prior years; MAP = measurement of academic progress, learning math remotely was difficult, lack of manipulatives, etc.
- Dr. Tina Rogers and Dr. Linda Ashley - first time before committee in roles created after Dr Edwards retired; the positions were budget neutral; Stokes acknowledging their working together as apparently evident in this presentation and collaboration #schcom1123
- can you further expand on 'scaffolding'? gradual approach to support during the learning process at each grade level with the curriculum #schcom1123 just in time, providing support so they don't get stuck
- moving to Discussion/Action items - A. Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Job Description - "I recommend approval of the new position of Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as discussed. https://franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/uploads/discussion_action_a_-_new_position_dei.pdf… #schcom1123
- job description approval allows for start of search, possible start for Mar 2022 altho may not be able to fulfill until Jul depending upon field, requirements, and candidate commitments #schcom1123
- some of the work of the individual would be addressing individual equity actions, or policy changes within district, or perhaps recommendations for #schcom1123 action; restorative process is already in place and developing, would assist with this as well
- motion and seconded, after discussion vote -> 7- 0 for #schcom1123
- next up mask proposal for FHS, numbers verified by vaccination records; #schcom1123 FHS has 35% of the district population, had 10 cases year to date; not socially distanced in some cases, nor masked in others; unvaccinated students are still req'd to wear masks
- there are methods and stats to go back to masks if req'd #schcom1123 1 - attestation from parent/guardian, 2 - child is permitted to remove, 3 - permission granted to share info with faculty/staff; mask wearing does not indicate vaccine status; compliance through …
- progressive approach; in Hopkinton, about 40% still work masks in their implementation period; #schcom1123
- B. Proposal for Optional Mask Wearing by Vaccinated Students/Staff at FHS related to Policy EBCFA Face Coverings I recommend approval of the proposal for optional mask wearing by vaccinated students/staff at FHS as discussed. https://franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/uploads/discussion_action_b_-_mask_proposal.pdf… #schcom1123
- no plans currently for pool testing; only 26% participated last time; not enough to be effective for the work required to process; #schcom1123 positivity reported on Thur evening, could turn a pause on by Monday; Mr Hanna provides input on FHS 'feeling' …
- comfortable with option based upon choice; Supt - mask compliance has wanned during the year; hard to enforce when it is so spread; #schcom1123 need to take care and be kind across the board
- on compliance for those needing masks for those non-vaccinated; varies by case, starts with conversation; in a private setting; in rare case when the convo and call home didn't resolve, then escalation needed #schcom1123
- there has been an uptick but not yet seen at FHS, #schcom1123 could consider postponing start until Jan 22 to get by holidays
- only 11 districts with this type of waiver, comms among the 11 on what to do how to, etc. underway, Hopkinton was first and they have provided info; #schcom1123 DESE doesn't yet include boosters as part of the calc; may come on later (due to timing)
- boosters only or 18+, hence not much part of the FHS students population; CDC hasn't changed definition of vaccinated yet either #schcom1123 data would be input into the system, and appear in faculty student lists and info
- expressing concern on teachers taking on the added burden of mask enforcement; would be more comfortable with this after the holiday; students are traveling everywhere; #schcom1123
- suggestion that trial period and policy start could get postponed if uptick continues; another leaning toward postponing to Jan 22; Hanna jumps into to advocate no pause on behalf of the students #schcom1123 we'll do what is asked of us
- it could set us up in a confusing place; when there are too many changes, it is harder to keep the moment going #schcom1123 via roll call passes 4-3 (Bernstein, Charles, Whitmore voted no; Callaghan, McNeill, Spencer and Stokes voted yes)
- moving to discussion only items: Open Meeting Law Complaint Response - Ms. Denise Spencer - there is no transcript due to break in the meeting; hence no further action needed or required, copy sent to complainer, and to Attny General #schcom1123
- new business - workshop on finances; lifelong learning update; #schcom1123
- Consent agenda - I recommend approval (see listing) https://franklinmatters.org/2021/11/franklin-ma-school-committee-meeting_01900743034.html… motion, seconded, motion amended to remove transfers from the action - approved 7-0
- motion to enter executive session, and to return in Open Session. approved 7-0 #schcom1123
- meeting re-opens at 9:56 PM - motion and second to ratify the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Franklin Education Association (FEA); passed via roll call vote 7-0. No details on memo provided. Motion to adjourn, seconded, passed via roll call 7-0
Audio recording of meeting to be available in couple of days
Recap: School Committee hears update on MCAS results; votes to implement optional mask for vaccinated students; votes on MOU for FEA