Dear Mount Madonna School Community,
Welcome back from the winter break.
In accordance with the guidance published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) and the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency, Mount Madonna School (MMS) implemented layers of mitigation strategies to safeguard the school community from COVID-19.
On Friday, February 25, the CDC recommended that students and staff in schools should wear masks when local COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are high. During the press conference, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stressed the importance of allowing the public, including school children and employees, to take breaks from wearing masks when the local COVID-19 numbers are low. Following on the heels of this announcement, on Monday, February 28, Governor Gavin Newsom and the CPDH released updated masking guidance for students in schools and child care facilities. Effective after Friday, March 11, masks are strongly recommended in schools but no longer required, regardless of vaccination status.
MMS strives to cultivate a caring and inclusive community based on respect and kindness. Many people have strong feelings about wearing masks. Some are in favor and others are opposed. To date, MMS’ masking policy has resulted in fewer cases of COVID-19 as compared to other schools in the county. Several private schools in Santa Cruz County, including MMS, plan on implementing a staggered approach to making masks optional. Startingon Monday, March 14, students and school employees may remove masks outdoors. MMS will continue to partner with Inspire Diagnostics to test and surveil the school community, so we can respond to individual cases. If we continue to find that the numbers remain low, on Monday, April 18 (a week after the spring break), masks will be strongly recommended for students in the classrooms and on the buses and vans. At this time, Cal/OSHA and CDPH will continue to require school employees to mask indoors when students are present.
CDPH, with the assistance of local health officers, will establish and monitor metrics such as local positivity rates, hospitalization rates and hospital capacity to determine if and when it is necessary to reinstate masking in schools to protect the community. Local health departments may impose stronger requirements than the state guidance. An outstanding question is whether softening the masking guidance will impact the CDPH K-12 exposure, quarantine and isolation guidance. We have been informed that CDPH is actively working on updating the guidance and the official release date is anticipated to be Friday, March 11.
Statement from California Governor Gavin Newsom: “California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic. Masks are an effective tool to minimize spread of the virus and future variants, especially when transmission rates are high. We cannot predict the future of the virus, but we are better prepared for it and will continue to take measures rooted in science to keep California moving forward.
“In California, starting March 1, masks are no longer required for unvaccinated individuals, but are strongly recommended for all individuals in most indoor settings. After March 11, in schools and child care facilities, masks will not be required but will be strongly recommended. Masks will still be required for everyone in high-transmission settings like public transit, emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities. As always, local jurisdictions may have additional requirements beyond the state guidance.”
We will keep you posted as we learn more about the updated masking guidance and the pending exposure, quarantine, and isolation guidance, and what this means for your child at MMS.
Ann Goewert, Ph.D.
Head of School