AUBURN — As COVID-19 cases surge among young people, masking will be required at elementary schools but for now will remain optional at the middle and high schools.

The School Committee voted 7-1 on Wednesday night to approve a revised reentry plan that also includes pooled testing with parental consent. Member Faith Fontaine voted against the motion.

Fairview Elementary School Principal Celeste Beaudet, chairwoman of the district’s Health and Safety Committee, presented the recommendations to the committee.

“Mask-wearing is required during school hours for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at the elementary schools until at least 60 days after a vaccination becomes available for students under the age of 12,” according to the plan.

Beaudet told the committee the revised guide to reopening schools also gives the superintendent the authority to adjust the plan in response to COVID-19 cases.

Superintendent Connie Brown was given the authority to change the policies on masking, remote instruction and school closures based on the needs of each school.

Pooled testing involves self-swabbing by a batch of people whose samples are tested together. If the batch comes up positive, then everyone in the group is tested individually.

“Any student or staff member who participates in weekly pooled testing is exempt from quarantine if exposed to COVID at school (and has no symptoms of the disease),” according to the plan.

The exemption applies only to school and school activities. Anyone determined to be a close contact will be required to quarantine.

The committee’s vote of approval came after members of the public spoke in favor of masking and pooled testing.

Daniel Rausch, a local doctor, said he had spoken to dozens of professionals and had read medical reports on masking.

“No data has proved adverse outcomes of masking students and kids while inside during school,” he said.

He said he and his wife, a nurse, would gladly volunteer to help with pooled testing.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: