February 24, 2022
Rochester families and staff,
On Wednesday, February 23, the Governor, the NH Department of Health and Human Services, and the NH Department of Education issued new guidelines for masking in schools (Full Technical Advisory). Based on the guidance provided, starting Monday, February 28, the wearing of masks by students and faculty will be optional but recommended.
The following are exceptions to optional mask wearing:
1. Per CDC’s Order, face masks must still be worn on public transportation, including school buses (CDC Guidance). All students and staff have been provided masks by the district, please ensure you are prepared with a mask each day if you wish to continue riding school buses.
2. Individuals quarantined for COVID-19 with no symptoms and are returning to school are required to wear a mask for days 6-10. If electing to not wear a mask, the individual will be quarantined for the full ten days.
The following are other factors to consider:
1. The new guidance is no longer based on community spread but on severity of disease, hospitalizations, differences in risks for different populations and acceptability and sustainability of preventive strategies. The NH DHHS indicated that the historical level of community transmission is no longer an accurate way to determine COVID-19 risks. Mitigation measures are intended to be a temporary bridge until younger age groups are vaccinated.
2. People who are severely immunocompromised should consider wearing a face mask for their own protection when indoors at public locations.
3. The NH Department of Health and Human Services continues to encourage qualifying individuals to be fully vaccinated. Vaccination for school age populations has been available since November 2021.
4. Face masks should still be worn to shorten isolation and quarantine to 5 days. (Find more information here)
5. Social distancing is no longer required. Individuals are to do their best to distance.
6. Stay home when sick. (Symptoms associated with COVID-19: headache, nausea or vomiting, sore throat, muscle pain, fatigue, chills, new loss of taste or smell, congestion, runny nose, fever of 100.0 or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and/or diarrhea.) Testing for COVID-19 is recommended with these symptoms.
7. Continue to practice handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
8. NH Department of Health and Human Services indicated if there are any changes with the severity of COVID-19 the NH Department of Health and Human Services could possibly change their mask guidance.
In closing, it is important to note that we will continue to provide updates should state guidance change in the future. The Rochester School Department appreciates your cooperation and respect for everyone in our community.