On First Day Back, Lyndon Institute Ups Mask Requirement

Lyndon Institute (File Photo)

Lyndon Institute abruptly changed its mask status on the first day of school on Monday.

The school switched from “Yellow” (partial mask mandate) to “Red” (full mask mandate) after positive COVID-19 cases were identified in the school community.

In a statement posted on social media, LI said “During the morning hours we have learned of a couple positive COVID cases within our LI community that will require school-based contact tracing.”

The statement continues, “As previously outlined in our COVID protocols, a positive case in the school community that prompts school-based contact tracing requires us to go to Red on our three-tiered system but will not close school. This means that students are required to wear masks at all times while indoors (except while eating).”

Lyndon will take several factors into consideration — contract tracing results, local COVID numbers, and input from area schools — when they determine whether to stay in “Red” later this week.

DIFFERENT APPROACHES

The episode offers a first look at the volatile and unpredictable nature of school mask rules in the age of the Delta variant.

School districts across the Northeast Kingdom and North Country have crafted their own mask policies for the 2021-2022 academic year. In the absence of state mandates, they have relied on their own interpretations of state and federal recommendations. Those policies vary in flexibility.

Lyndon Institute opened the year with a three-tier, color-coded (red, yellow, green) set of mask protocols designed to balance student’s physical health and social/emotional well-being.

Those tiers — Green (masks not required indoors), Yellow (masks optional in some situations, required in others) and Red (masks required indoors at all times) — are tied to local COVID-19 data and state Agency of Education guidelines.

However, in the event of a positive case, LI will immediately shift to “Red” status until contact tracing is completed and the extent of cases is determined.

As a result, mask regulations could change on a daily basis, requiring students and families to remain vigilant. Staff and students are being asked to carry masks at all times, in the event of a sudden change in mask status, such as the one that occurred on Monday.

WHAT IS YOUR SCHOOL DOING?

The following is a look at how different school districts will approach masking to start the school year. As is the case with everything related to COVID, these policies are subject to change.

Note: Policies are regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. All school districts will require mask use on buses per federal orders.

VERMONT

CALEDONIA CENTRAL SU (Barnet/Cabot/Danville/Peacham/Twinfield/Walden/Waterford): Masks required for all students, staff and visitors.

GOOD SHEPHERD SCHOOL: Masks required for all students, staff and visitors.

KINGDOM EAST SU (Burke/Concord/Lunenburg/Lyndon/Miller’s Run/Newark/Sutton): Masks required indoors for all K-8 students and staff at all times. The policy will be re-evaluated at the end of September.

LYNDON INSTITUTE: Three-tier (red, yellow, green) mask policy tied to local COVID-19 data and state Agency of Education guidelines. Mask tiers are as follows. RED: Masks required indoors for all students, staff and visitors, YELLOW: Masks required on buses, at assembly, and during class transitions, but optional if students maintain 3-feet of social distance in classrooms/advisory and before/after school; Guests must be masked, GREEN: Masks are not required indoors. LI will revert to Red status in times of contact tracing.

NORTH COUNTRY SU (Brighton/Charleston/Coventry/Derby/Jay/Lowell/Newport/Troy/North Country Union): Mask requirement indoors for all students, staff and visitors until schools have reached the 80 percent vaccination threshold determined by the state. PreK-8 schools will not be able to achieve this threshold until vaccination is extended to those under 12.

ORLEANS CENTRAL SU (Albany/Barton/Brownington/Glover/Irasburg/Orleans/Lake Region Union): Masks required indoors for all staff, students and visitors until further notice.

ST. JOHNSBURY ACADEMY: Masks required indoors for all students, staff and visitors.

ST. JOHNSBURY SCHOOL: Masks required indoors for all students, staff and visitors for the foreseeable future.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

BATH VILLAGE: Masks required indoors for all students and staff.

BETHLEHEM: Masks required indoors when 3 feet of social distance cannot be achieved.

HAVERHILL CO-OPERATIVE: No mask requirement as of Aug. 2. However, the School Board will revisit mask requirements during a special meeting at Haverhill Co-operative Middle School at 6 p.m. Aug. 26.

LAFAYETTE REGIONAL (Easton, Franconia, Sugar Hill): Masks required indoors/on buses for all students, staff and visitors.

LANDAFF: Mask wearing at the head teacher’s discretion when 3 feet of social distance cannot be achieved.

LISBON: Masks optional indoors in Grades K-12.

LITTLETON: Two-tiered mask policy. Masks are optional during “Traditional” status and required during “Enhanced Traditional” status. Status changes will be approved by the School Board and will be based on state Department of Health and Human Services risk thresholds. Littleton is expected to open the school year in “Traditional” (mask optional) status.

MONROE CONSOLIDATED: Masks “recommended” but not required for students, staff and visitors.

PROFILE: Masks required indoors for all students and adults (staff, guests) for the first two weeks of school. Will be re-evaluated after that point.

WHITE MOUNTAINS REGIONAL: Masks required indoors for all students in grades PreK-8. Masks optional for students in grades 9-12 during periods of low or moderate transmission, required during periods of high transmission (defined as more than 100 case per 100,000, or 9 or more cases in WMRSD communities).

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