By Chris Paul
Just over a week after dozens of concerned parents and residents asked for the Londonderry School District to lift the policy that made it mandatory for students to wear masks in school and were denied, school officials have now lifted that policy.
In a press release issued on the Londonderry School District website on June 17 officials have changed the policy in regard to wearing masks at school.
The decision came just one day before school ended for the summer.
The release stated, “We are writing today to inform you of a change to our current safety protocols in the Londonderry School District. Yesterday afternoon, the New Hampshire Department of Public Health Services released new “Permissive” guidance regarding facemasks in schools and childcare facilities. This in effect gave us their recommendation that masks can now be optional in our buildings going forward. There was no time frame on the guidelines, and indications are that this will remain in place as long as community spread numbers continue to be low. While it is too early to say with complete confidence, it appears that this guidance could remain in place through the reopening of school in the fall.”
The release added, “Where we are following NHDPH guidance by virtue of our reopening plan, the District is empowered to make this adjustment now. We are currently working on a method by which parents can communicate their choice of masking for their child to the schools, which will likely be either a form or a permission slip. You will receive details on that method of communication from the buildings as soon as it is ready. Our summer programs start on June 28 and we will certainly be ready by then.
In regard to the new school year starting in August, the release states, “Relative to masks in the fall, we do believe that this recommendation will still be in place by then, given the absence of a significant spike in COVID cases and a subsequent change in guidance from the NHDPHS. We intend to continue forward with our planning process to collect data as well as parent and teacher feedback over the summer, and to present our update to the reopening plan to the School Board in August.
The School District also caught some negative feedback from the fact that the school board meeting video, where many parents spoke out against the mask policy, was taken off YouTube shortly after it was posted.
To that, school officials released a statement on June 15.
That statement read, “Over the past weekend, it has come to our attention that YouTube has deactivated the video of the June 8 meeting of the Londonderry School Board. The District regularly broadcasts meetings of the School Board on this format, and posts recordings of meetings in order to be sure that Londonderry residents have the ability to see meetings that are of interest to them. In the case of this particular video, we have been informed that the video has been taken down because it violates the YouTube Community Guidelines, and specifically their prohibition of content that contradicts the guidance of the WHO and the CDC regarding COVID-19 protocols. We have been alerted by YouTube that subsequent violations of this policy could result in the District’s channel being deactivated. The District has initiated an appeal of this decision, and in the meantime has posted a recording of the video on our own internal website. Residents may now view that video linked on the School Board page of the district website. It is of vital importance that members of our community have the ability to see what transpired during this meeting and all meetings of the School Board.”