LEWISTON — Superintendent Jake Langlais will recommend the School Committee vote to implement an optional masking policy beginning March 7, according to a memo written by Langlais.

The committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Connors Elementary School at 400 Bartlett St.

“The intent of this recommendation is to take a calculated approach to roll back from COVID mitigation strategies in place while monitoring and being mindful of transition, student and staff vulnerabilities, and an ability to be responsive,” Langlais wrote. “Following local data, we have seen sharp declines in positivity rate, reduction in severe symptomatic positives, and input from our community.”

The results of a Google survey distributed last week indicates that the majority of the school community believes that masking should be optional if COVID-19 conditions continue to improve.

Of the 1,976 respondents, 73% voted in favor of optional masking. Results from the multilingual surveys were not provided, but Langlais commented that the percentages were slightly more in favor of optional masking.

However, a survey from the Lewiston Education Association showed that educators may be more reluctant to roll back the universal masking policy than the general school community.


Of the 90 responses collected, 54% of individuals said they were comfortable changing to optional masking, whereas 46% were not.

Langlais will need a majority vote from the School Committee on Monday to change from universal to optional masking.

By beginning optional masking on March 7, school officials would have time to monitor COVID-19 cases following February break and delay the end of universal masking if needed, Langlais wrote.

Pooled COVID-19 testing would remain in place for monitoring and competitions would still follow the most restrictive respective school COVID-19 guidelines, under his recommendation.

However, if data and guidelines continue to trend in a way that diminishes the need for pooled testing, it could later be discontinued, he wrote.

Masks would still be required for in-person staff meetings, and personal protective equipment would continue to be available to students and staff as before.

This recommendation is subject to change in response to an anticipated announcement from the Maine Center for Disease Control regarding COVID-19 and schools, he wrote.

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