June 29, 2022

Gov. Lamont Ends Statewide Mask Mandate, Feb. 28, Delegates Future Policy to Local Authorities; LOL Schools Deciding Next Steps

LYME/OLD LYME — After Gov. Lamont directed that he was gong to  lift the statewide mask mandate and transfer decisions regarding masking to local municipalities, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser sent out the following letter yesterday (Feb. 10) to the LOL school community indicating no decision has yet been taken on mask-wearing in schools after Feb. 28.

By now you have heard of Governor Lamont’s announcement that he is endorsing a plan developed in consultation with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE).  This plan will end the statewide requirement that masks be worn in schools effective February 28, 2022.  I am writing to inform you of the considerations that we are contemplating to determine how the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools will proceed based on that announcement.  Our goal is to best balance the health and safety of our students and staff while returning to more normalcy in a mask optional environment, as soon as it is prudent to do so.  As always, we will continue to consider the guidance of our district medical advisor, Ledge Light Health District, the CDC, DPH and other public health and medical professionals, though those recommendations at times contradict one another.  I expect that we will have a definitive plan to respond to this announcement prior to our upcoming February vacation.

Some current considerations include:

  • The vaccination rates for our middle and high school students are high, yet the rate of vaccination for our elementary students is average. 
  • We have been tracking our number of confirmed student/staff cases and determining whether or not said cases have led to outbreaks, which, fortunately, so far has not occurred.
  • As of this writing, the CDC recommends that masks continue to be worn indoors in all K-12 settings. In addition, based on the continued high rate of transmission in the area, the CDC recommends that everyone in New London County should wear a mask in public indoor settings.
  • We have received some recommendations to consider extending the mask mandate for at least an additional week or two (to March 7 or 14, 2022) for the following reasons:
    • February 28, 2022 is the day we return from our February break over which many families will have traveled.  Based on our experience from our most recent school vacation, the number of infections could be elevated for a week or two after our return.
    • Students who are unvaccinated, or are not yet eligible for the vaccine, would have additional time to get vaccinated or possibly become eligible for the vaccine.
    • The weather in mid-March will be slightly warmer allowing for more outdoor opportunities, reducing the possibility of virus transmission.
  • Unless the federal government changes their position on masks for public transportation, the mask mandate for school buses will remain as that is governed by the CDC, not the state of CT.
  • The Governor’s plan is contingent upon the Connecticut General Assembly voting to extend the Governor’s existing Executive Order which gives DPH the ability to implement mask requirements in certain settings.  Until this legislative process is complete, we must continue to comply with current masking requirements, which remain in effect through February 15, 2022 when the current Executive Order expires.  Should the legislature vote to extend mandatory school masking, we will be required to continue to comply with this legislation.   
  • DPH has indicated that they will be issuing further guidance regarding isolation and quarantine recommendations associated with this new plan. As you know, current guidance requires masking in the various scenarios presented in response to a positive case.

Please do not misinterpret any of the above to imply that a decision has been made either in support of immediate removal of masks or opposed to such.  Once all considerations have been evaluated, along with anything additional as advised by the forthcoming DPH guidance, we will notify everyone of what to expect on February 28, 2022. 

We will publish details of the decisions taken regarding future mask policy by both LOL Schools and the Towns of Lyme and Old Lyme as soon as they are made.