Important Policy Updates and Calendar Reminders

March 26, 2021

Dear Families,

Today we are issuing important updates regarding: (1) DESE’s guidance regarding full vaccination status, (2) out of state travel, and (3) the use of our new fitness center that was added as part of Milestones’ program expansion.  Additionally, we have included a few calendar reminders.

1. DESE Guidance on Individuals Who Are Fully Vaccinated: DESE issued guidance to schools on 3/22/21 regarding vaccination status.  Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks (14 days) after their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).   One is not considered fully vaccinated until passing this 2 week period after the final dose.  DESE has directed that there are 2 areas where schools may exempt fully vaccinated individuals: (1) with regard to quarantining if one is identified as a close contact to COVID-19 and does not show symptoms and (2) travel policies.

  • Protocol Change for Fully Vaccinated Individuals Who Are “Close Contacts”:  Effective immediately, individuals who meet the defined criteria for full vaccination status do not need to quarantine or get tested if they are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, as long as they do not show symptoms.  If fully vaccinated students or staff show symptoms, they should still remain out of school and must be in touch with our school nurse (Lyn Ross: lross@advancingmilestones.com) to discuss next steps.

  • Travel Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals:  Please see Milestones Revised Travel Policy listed in #2 below for details.

  • Continued Safety Requirements for Fully Vaccinated Individuals: Per DESE guidelines, as of now all other safety parameters in schools still apply for fully vaccinated individuals (ex: mask use, social distancing guidelines, etc).

  • Vaccination Records on File:  We are very pleased that we already have some students ages 16+ who have pursued vaccinations and a very high percentage of faculty who are in process with appointments.   Fully vaccinated individuals should please provide a copy of your vaccination record to our school nurse.

2. Revised Out of State Travel Policy for Milestones Effective Monday, May 3rd:

  • Decision: Effective Monday, May 3rd, in light of Massachusetts recently reducing the State’s Travel Order with a Travel Advisory, Milestones Reentry Task Force is revising our school’s Travel Policy to become more flexible.  We hope you are excited about this positive direction.  This revised policy will maintain a required component of accountability that specifically aligns with the State’s current recommendations.   Effective 5/3/21 Milestones will permit students and faculty to return to campus immediately after completing the exact guidelines outlined in the Massachusetts Travel Advisory.  As of 5/3/21, we will also approve all specified exemptions listed in the Travel Advisory. This policy is subject to change based upon the evolving climate of COVID-19.

  • What This Means as of 5/3/21:  Please review the Massachusetts Travel Advisory found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-advisory.  Essentially, beginning on 5/3/21 if faculty or students travel out of state for more than 24 hours and do not meet a specified exemption criteria, they must either quarantine out of school for 10 days or furnish a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to returning to Massachusetts or anytime after returning to Massachusetts.  We will no longer require wait time before completing PCR testing; out of state travel that is less than 24 hours will not require any testing or quarantining, and Massachusetts guidelines no longer distinguish states’ risk levels.  Prior to 5/3/21, all families and faculty should please continue to follow our current policy.   Beginning 5/3/21, only those students and faculty who do not meet an exemption need to notify Milestones about out of state travel plans.  Negative PCR test results should continue to be shared with our school nurse (Lyn Ross: lross@advancingmilestones.com).

  • Rationale:  This week Milestones Reentry Task Force thoroughly reviewed how the updated Massachusetts Travel Advisory should best apply within our setting.  Our Task Force has consistently met at least weekly since last spring to review evolving health and safety metrics.  Our goal is to make decisions for Milestones that best insulate health and safety while taking into account therapeutic opportunities to the extent that is feasible.  This week we reviewed travel information from DESE and the CDC, we consulted with the Waltham Board of Health and the Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps), and we engaged in extensive dialogue with public and private school administration and nursing working groups regarding this change. Ultimately, Massachusetts schools remain permitted to exercise discretion, and schools across the state have reported varying plans.  Some schools are revising their Travel Policies to explicitly follow the new Travel Advisory, some have announced that they are not making any changes to their current more restrictive policies this school year, and some schools like Milestones are opting to fall in between (ex: requiring rather than recommending the exact steps and exemptions outlined in the Travel Advisory).  We believe the State’s updated Advisory provides positive assurance to Milestones to “move the needle forward,” while asking our community to fulfill the guidelines recommended by Massachusetts aligns with our ongoing priority for risk reduction.  The majority of our students and faculty are not yet fully vaccinated, and select remote and hybrid students are working to gain confidence toward full onsite instruction.  Initiating this policy change effective 5/3/21 will allow for a higher percentage of individuals in our community to achieve full vaccination status and will provide transition time for students who are working toward increased onsite instruction.

3. Fitness Center/3rd Floor:  We are thrilled to announce that in accordance with the Massachusetts Reopening Phase III and the completion of our internal safety plan, Milestones’ students and faculty are now able to use the fitness center in a limited capacity of 2 supervised students at a time.  Students must wear masks at all times when using the fitness center and staff will supervise the sanitizing of equipment after each use. There are 5 different types of fitness equipment located on the 3rd floor which will help students address different muscle groups.  The purpose of the fitness center for students is for therapeutic intent.  This means eligible students may use the center who are regulated and need a break, as a “special reward,” or clinicians who are working on specific issues with students may direct its use.

4. Instructional Model Survey Reminder:  Please complete the survey below by Wednesday, March 31st (if you have not done so already) to confirm the instructional model for your student(s) for the remainder of the current school year and to express your present level of interest in after school club opportunities.

5. April Calendar Reminders:

  • Wednesday, April 7th: Half-day (12:00PM Early Dismissal) for Staff’s Professional Development

  • April School Vacation: Milestones will be closed from Monday – Friday, April 19th-23rd.  We are scheduled to resume full onsite instruction on Monday, April 26th.

Even with the complex impact that COVID-19 restrictions have uniquely presented to students, families, and faculty, our full school community has demonstrated exemplary cooperation and compliance.  For that, we are grateful.  In addition, for the many families and faculty who have individually taken the time to reach out to members of our Reentry Task Force team to express complimentary feedback and appreciation for our ongoing diligence, we thank you as well.

Have a great weekend!
Kim