Hartford Public Schools Face Mask Protocol
Hartford Public School Face Mask Protocol
All Hartford Public Schools students in grades Pre-K through 12th, staff, parents, and visitors will be required to wear a face mask while on Hartford Public Schools property. Face masks are being required based upon guidance from the CDC, State of Connecticut public health and education officials, local health authorities, and stakeholders including administrators, teachers and parents.
According to the CDC, face masks are an effective tool in stopping the spread of COVID‐19, along with social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. Each school site will have a school-based COVID-19 Response Team to address COVID-19 related issues with guidance from the District Health and Safety Team.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who will be required to wear face masks?
All students in grades Pre-K -12th, staff, visitors, and vendors will be required to wear face masks unless an approved exemption applies.
Will people have to wear face masks all day?
Masks and face coverings will be required while on HPS property. Teachers may remove cloth/disposable masks while teaching so long as they are properly physically distanced and wearing a face shield. Teachers and students can also remove masks and face shields while eating, drinking, or when outside provided they are able to physically distance.
Will there be exemptions?
Yes. The following approved exemptions apply:
- Persons eating or drinking while maintaining physical distance (6 feet).
- Persons for whom a face mask would cause an impairment due to an existing health condition (Medical documentation required, please inform the Human Resources and the District Health and Safety team if a staff member is in this category).
- Persons who need to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired and need to see the person’s mouth to communicate while maintaining physical distance and wearing a face shield.
- Teachers and students when a face mask would be an impediment to instruction and they are maintaining physical distance and wearing a face shield in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Will there be mask breaks for our students?
Yes. Across all grades and age groups, teachers shall utilize a minimum of a five-minute mask break every hour. The five minutes do not have to be done all at once and the teacher can utilize more than five minutes to the extent circumstances require or dictate the need for more time. If appropriate physical distancing can be maintained during a mask break while in the classroom, instruction can continue.
Prior to the mask break, the teacher should ensure all students are appropriately physically distanced (6 feet). While this can be done in the classroom if class size and spacing permit the maintaining of the required distance, we encourage the use of larger spaces in the buildings such as the gym or outside areas when and where appropriate. Regardless of where it takes place, 6 feet of physical distancing is always required during the mask break.
Will students be required to wear a face covering when participating in co‐curricular and extra‐ curricular activities?
Yes. Students will be required to wear a face mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained unless the function cannot be performed with a face mask.
Can students and staff bring their own face masks?
Yes. The CDC recommends cloth masks with multiple layers. Face masks must comply with the dress code found in the Code of Student Conduct so that they do not disrupt school activities, are not obscene or otherwise inflammatory, and do not endanger anyone’s health or safety.
What happens if a student forgets, loses, or damages their face covering?
If a student forgets, loses or damages their face mask, the District/school will provide a disposable or cloth face mask. All schools will be provided with an ample supply of PPE and assigned a PPE captain to address these concerns.
What happens if a student refuses to wear a face mask? Will student refusal to wear a mask constitute a disciplinary violation?
Face masks will be required for all students, staff, parents and visitors. Every attempt, including re-educating and supporting the students, will be made to ensure that the student and the student’s parents understand the importance of wearing a face mask. If these attempts are unsuccessful, the school/District will work with families to identify the more appropriate learning arrangements including remote learning options.
School administrators, in consultation with their School Level Response Team, should use their best judgment in determining if a student’s refusal to wear a mask is a situation requiring re-educating or discipline.
What happens when a visitor or vendor refuses to wear a face mask?
Face masks will be required to be worn by visitors and vendors. Individuals without face masks will not be allowed to remain on HPS property.
Will face masks be required everywhere on a school campus?
Face masks will be required on all HPS property unless an approved exemption applies (see exemption section of this document).
Will face masks be required on buses?
Yes. It will be the student’s responsibility to wear a face mask while on district transportation; disposable face masks will be available for students who forget their face mask.
Will SSO’s be enforcing the face mask requirement?
The School Level COVID-19 Response Team (which includes an SSO) at each school will work with students and staff to encourage and ensure compliance.
How will the face mask requirement apply to students with special needs?
Appropriate accommodations will be made based on the individualized needs of the students. Staff working with students requiring accommodations will have additional PPE.
Will staff refusal to wear a mask constitute a disciplinary violation?
Yes. If no exemption applies and a staff member refuses to wear a mask, this may constitute a disciplinary violation.
Will replacement masks be only for students?
No. While the District encourages staff and students to bring their own mask, provided it complies with safety requirements and does not interfere with educational programming and/or violate any District rules, replacement masks will be available for staff and students.
The District will also be providing face shields for all staff that prefer to wear a face shield in addition to their mask.
The health and safety of our students and staff is our highest priority and is at the forefront of our planning. State guidance and policies related to school reopening safety plans apply to all students, including students with special needs who qualify for individual education programs under the IDEA and accommodation plans for eligible students under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Under the guidelines, masks, physical distancing, and hand washing protocols are required for all students.
Certain exceptions are allowed under the state regulations. As exceptions, any modification to the mitigating processes (mask wearing, physical distancing, and handwashing) will be carefully considered on a case by case basis using documentation and data. Exceptions for students include accommodations for anyone who has a medical reason (supported by a doctor’s note) making it unsafe to wear a face mask, students with special health care needs or disabilities whose learning (e.g., direct instruction) or other needs (e.g., assisting with toileting or ambulation) may require closer proximity and/or direct contact.
Special consideration will be given to students who may have difficulty acclimating to the standard protocols (students with significant communication and/or executive functioning deficits, students with impaired vision, hearing, and/or other physical disabilities). Developmentally appropriate instructional strategies will be implemented. Examples include but are not limited to the use of social stories, visual cues, video modeling, and other appropriate developmental strategies used to reinforce new concepts and protocols.
Staff supporting students with special healthcare needs (students not able to wear masks and who may need assistance with activities of daily living, such as toileting and eating), conducting certain assessments, language acquisition activities, and staff working with students who may exhibit significant behaviors that require de-escalation strategies and emergency safety protocols will be afforded increased protective equipment (including but not limited to face shields, disposable gowns and gloves).
Please do not hesitate to contact our Hartford Public Schools Co-COVID-19 Compliance Liaisons, Deborah Chameides CHAMD001@hartfordschools.org or Edward Wilson, Jr. Wilse002@hartfordschools.org with any questions regarding the face mask protocol.