Fall Health and Safety Information Including Indoor Masks and Other Preventative Measures

August 5, 2021

Dear Families,

We hope that you have been enjoying the summer thus far.  We are writing to provide an update regarding Milestones’ health and safety protocols this fall.  As of now, based on the uptick of cases of COVID-19 and variants in Massachusetts and beyond, Milestones plans to extend the following key mitigation measures:

  • (1) Universal indoor masking:  for all students and faculty schoolwide, regardless of vaccination status.  Per a federal public health order, this includes masks on buses and school vans.  As before, we are not requiring masks outdoors on campus and masks may be removed while eating indoors.

  • (2) Other mitigation practices:  daily health attestations for all staff and students to prevent illness at school; nightly cleaning/disinfection by a third party (Monday-Friday) with ongoing increased custodial cleaning during the school day; promoting healthy hand hygiene practices; maintaining ventilation upgrades; and promoting social distancing.

Additional Information on Indoor Masks:

You may be aware that DESE/DPH recently issued fall guidance to schools on 7/30/21, which is less conservative than Milestones’ decision to continue with universal indoor masking.  Schools have been directed to exercise local discretion based on our individualized circumstances, however, DESE advised the following:

  • Strongly recommends indoor masks for students in grades K-6, except students who cannot do so due to a medical condition or behavioral needs

  • Strongly recommends indoor masks for unvaccinated staff in all grades, unvaccinated students in grades 7 and above, and unvaccinated visitors

  • Recommends that schools allow vaccinated students to remain unmasked

  • Encourages mask use for individuals who are at higher risk for severe disease from COVID or who have household members who are high risk

  • Supports any child or family who prefers to mask at school to do so

  • Requires mask use for all staff and students on buses, per a federal public health order

  • Requires masks for all staff and students while in school health offices

  • Notes that DESE and DPH will continue to consult with medical advisors and may update masking requirements as they learn more about COVID-19’s effects on hospitalizations in Massachusetts and on children

Our decision includes continuing a higher level of health and safety measures than the guidance of DESE/DPH. Our protocols are consistent with the most up to date recommendations set forth for schools by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Both agencies recently issued recommendations for universal indoor masking for all faculty and students at schools this fall, regardless of vaccination status.   Our local decision was also made in consultation with our School’s Consulting Physician’s office and is unanimously supported by our Re-entry Task Force and Board of Directors.  As local school districts review their safety plans for the fall, we are aware that at least some may extend similar universal indoor mask policies (ex: the Mayor of Boston has confirmed that indoor masks will continue this fall throughout Boston Public Schools). Milestones believes that this policy remains the most proactive in our setting to protect the wellness of our students and faculty and further insulate the integrity of our full onsite instructional model.  For more information, please visit:

Vaccine Education:

  • DESE/DPH have also called on schools to strongly encourage vaccination as an additional layer of protection for our school and broader community.  Educational resources for families that have been provided by DESE are linked here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-covid-19-vaccine-education-and-outreach-materials.   Families can assist us by ensuring that we have up to date vaccination records on file for students.  If your student is fully vaccinated, we ask that you please verify that our School Nurse (Lyn Ross) has a copy of your student’s vaccination record on file.   If your student is eligible but not yet vaccinated (currently approved for ages 12+) and your family would benefit from Milestones’ support with obtaining a vaccine appointment or learning more about the available vaccines, you are encouraged to please contact Lyn for assistance:  lross@advancingmilestones.com.

Milestones’ Metrics (as of 8/5/21):

  • Faculty: Over 95% of Milestones faculty have documentation of full vaccination status on file.

  • Students:  Within our community we have a subset of students who are fully vaccinated, a subset of eligible students who are not yet fully vaccinated or do not yet have documentation on file, and students in our elementary grades who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

As a community, we very much look forward to ongoing opportunities to reduce and adapt restrictions when the timing is right for our program.  Our Task Force is committed to staying abreast of all related forthcoming guidance and will regularly monitor and review our protocols in relation to the prevalence of COVID and evolving best practices. We expect to share additional protocol information later in August.   In the meantime, thank you for your steadfast cooperation and collaboration with keeping our students and staff safe.

The Milestones Task Force