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Joyce Endee

School district to require masks if community transmission remains high

August 25, 2021
EFFINGHAM — The Governor Wentworth Regional School District revealed its 2021-22 school year Stay Open plan on Aug. 16 at the Effingham Elementary School during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Mask wearing expectations were a hot topic, as anticipated, with members of the public, many of whom have regularly attended meetings to share opinions in opposition to the wearing of masks and the rights of parents to decide whether their children should wear masks, in attendance.

Covid-19 and the prevailing Delta variant were compared to the common cold, and masks were declared harmful to young children.

Scott Lounsbury of Wolfeboro stood to speak in support of masks.

"Two masks are better than one — my mask and yours," said Lounsbury, who continued, "I hear about rights, but I don't hear an awful lot about responsibilities."

Superintendent Kathy Cuddy Egbert reported on changes to the safety protocols recommended by the Safety and Covid-19 Task Force, prefacing her remarks with a look at vaccination percentages as of two weeks ago and the observation that cases numbers are doubling. She said some of the protocols the Task Force thought it could eliminate had to be kept in place as a result of the increasing numbers.

All of the towns in the district, except Wolfeboro, have full vaccination percentages lower than the New Hampshire average of 58.83 percent (as of Aug. 17). Cuddy Egbert reporting on figures from the NH Department of Health and Human Services two weeks ago that may have improved slightly by now, presented the rates. Rounded off, they are: Brookfield was at 50 percent; Effingham at 38 percent; New Durham at 43 percent; Ossipee at 44 percent; Wolfeboro at 72 percent; Tuftonboro at 50 percent; and Middleton, which tuitions students to the Kingswood Regional Middle and High Schools at 34 percent.

Case counts as of Aug. 17: Brookfield, 0 active, 58 total; Effingham, 1-4 active, 92 total; Ossipee 10 active, 262 total; New Durham, 12 active, 194 total; Tuftonboro 1-4 active, 77 total; Wolfeboro, 5 active, 322 total; Middleton 5 active, 105 total.

The board approved the required wearing of masks when the risk of community transmission is rated substantial or high. (The risk for Carroll County is rated substantial at this time.) Masks will be optional when the risk conditions are on the low scale or moderate risk.

Outdoor sports will not require masking, but indoor sports will. Plexiglass dividers (their efficacy has been deemed low) will no longer need to be in place. They will remain in the reception areas.

Field trip approvals will be determined on a case by case basis; meetings will be virtual when appropriate. Some parents have shared that the virtual option is a time saver. Cafeteria service will return, and custodial staff will return to routine cleaning on a daily basis rather than cleaning numerous times during the day, since it has been determined that the virus does not stay active on surfaces. The HVAC systems will run two hours before school and two hours after school to maintain healthy air quality. Everyone will be required to wear a mask on the busses.

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