Maine DOE Embargoed Message to School Superintendents Regarding Masks/Face Coverings
Dear Champions of Education,
Maine CDC/DHHS and the "checklist team" of public health experts have reexamined school guidelines in light of yesterday's announcement by US CDC, and have provided us with a further update. Please notice that the word "indoors" has been added to the "requirements" section of the guidance, indicating that all face covering requirements apply to indoor settings.
In case it is helpful to you as you communicate this change to families, staff, and students: This, essentially, is the guidance we provided to you at the start of the school year. We interpreted the mask/face covering requirements as applying indoors and on busses - but not outside. (It seems so long ago - but in the later fall, we shared a school guidance update based on the Governor's executive order requiring masks in all public spaces, including outdoor spaces).
We recognize how challenging it is for you to receive and manage these changes, so we will continue to provide you with these embargoed announcements in advance (as soon as we are made aware of the changes). Ideally, you'd have a few days to develop a communication strategy for this, but in this case, public announcements by other entities have likely triggered many questions from your school communities. Therefore, feel free to share the following excerpt with the changes highlighted immediately:
Masks/Face Coverings - Adults, including educators and staff, are required to wear a mask/face covering when indoors. Students age five and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth when indoors. Masks are recommended for children ages two to four, when developmentally appropriate. Masks/face coverings must be worn by all students on the bus. Face shields may be an alternative for those students with documented medical or behavioral challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings. The same applies to staff with medical or other health reasons for being unable to wear face coverings. Face shields worn in place of a face covering must extend below the chin and back to the ears. Face masks/coverings must be worn during voluntary indoor school sports. Nothing in this framework’s mask/face covering requirements should be interpreted as preventing a school from making accommodations on an individualized basis as required by state or federal disabilities laws.
You can find the marked up, full document, here. MDOE will make public a clean copy of the attached full guidance on Friday.
As always, thank you for your tireless work on behalf of Maine's students, schools, and communities.
Pender Makin (she, her, hers)
Commissioner of Education
State of Maine