August 13, 2021
Well here we are … the last Friday before our first day of school. I hope everyone had a good Open House and that our teachers, students, and parents were able to begin forming those important relationships.
I feel like we are positioned for a good start to the school year. I am confident in the preparation our teachers have made to ensure that this is a productive year academically. Our teachers have gone above and beyond with their own learning and development. Incredible momentum is sure to transfer to students through their teaching.
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a narrative on the “why” behind our decision to pass the masking resolution for all MHPS students, staff, and visitors. There were three main reasons for this decision.
The proven health benefits of wearing the right mask the right way: Finding and wearing the right mask the right way is an area I believe we can all improve upon. Since we are doing this, we are going to put our best foot forward to maximize the health benefits. We are so fortunate to have a local mask company here in town that is making high-filtration masks for children and adults all over the state (and beyond). In fact, Hunt Nosari, The Masketeers general manager, spent time this week custom-fitting masks for younger students to accommodate the large number of K-12 school districts with policies similar to ours.
The data for Baxter County and our area is very concerning. I encourage you to look at the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement’s (ACHI) website to stay informed with the data we will be using as our guide. We will only require masking when we are in purple and red categories. After that it becomes recommended. Another website with valuable data about our county’s current infection rates -- as well as a lot of historical data -- is CovidActNow.org.
The rules we have been given regarding quarantining by the Arkansas Department of Health: With our goal of keeping kids in school and continuity of operations, it's definitely advantageous for our students and staff to be in masks to avoid being designated as close contacts. If these rules change, so will our policies.
I’m attaching links to the mask advisory resolution, to our Ready for Learning: Safe Start to School Considerations, and to a graphic that should help illustrate which ACHI levels correlate with which masking procedures.
I understand and fully recognize the differing opinions when it comes to the mask conversation as well as the overall feeling about the past 18 months. I’m tired of it. I’m sick of having to talk about it. I’m just like you: tired of being told what to do; tired of the division.
But my mission remains the same. Every student every time. Keep our schools open. Keep your kids in school. Every decision we make filters through this mission as my True North.
So as we wake up Wednesday morning, I implore you to take that back-to-school picture, give your child a big hug and soak in all that it means for our children to be in school, to participate in activities, and to develop into ALL that they can be. Our children have a tremendous future; they can do anything they want and go anywhere they want.
Thank you for your support and encouragement.
Godspeed and GO BOMBERS!