This letter was shared with P-H-M staff and families via email the afternoon of Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Good Afternoon P-H-M Families,
Some of you may be aware that at last night’s Board of School Trustees meeting, the Trustees unanimously voted for Penn-Harris-Madison schools to go mask optional starting Thursday, February 17, 2022.
The Trustees made this decision based on several factors:
- P-H-M has made vaccinations available to all staff members and students (5 and up).
- P-H-M’s layered COVID mitigation strategies outlined in the “Health and Safety Overview Plan” have worked to contain and minimize the spread of COVID in our schools.
- P-H-M’s positive COVID cases have been steadily declining for the past two weeks. Click to view P-H-M’s COVID-19 Positive Dashboard for the past 10 days.
- Locally, St. Joseph County cases are on the decline. Click to view St. Joseph County COVID-19 Data Summary on the Health Department website.
- Statewide, COVID cases are going down. Click to view Indiana’s COVID case data on the Indiana Department of Health website.
The Board and Administration realize that there are many families that have immune compromised members and that there are some staff and students that may elect to still wear their masks. The School Trustees support that decision and encourage anyone that still chooses to wear a face covering to do so.
Please note that it is still a federal requirement that everyone (staff and students) must wear a mask while riding on a school bus (even if fully vaccinated); this federal mandate is set to expire March 18, 2022. That means that students who are transported to and from school or for any other purpose must have a mask with them and wear it for the entire bus ride. Bus drivers do keep a small supply on buses in case a student forgets one, but please make sure your child has one.
Now that P-H-M will be mask optional, the district is required per the IDOH to have students who either test COVID positive or are symptomatic close contacts and they are not fully vaccinated (or previously had COVID in the past 90 days), they will be required to quarantine per the IDOH Guidelines for schools without a mask requirement (click here to read).
School principals and staff will need to contact trace when they are notified of a positive case so that safety measures can be followed.
Along with last night’s vote, the Board of School Trustees also requested that principals work to eventually allow visitors back into the buildings and to resume planning for student field trips, as school buses are available. For a full summary listing of things that will be reintroduced, please click here. It can also be found on page 4 of the Health and Safety Overview Plan.
We are asking for families to please be patient as there are a lot of logistics and details that our principals need to work out with our Custodians and Facilities crews, this includes removing barriers in the lunch rooms. We also request parents understand that there will not be an instant restart of school field trips, as there are a limited number of bus drivers available to drive during the school day.
Please expect that principals will share more details and outline of a plan to resume many school pre-pandemic practices (as listed on the P-H-M Updated COVID plan). While the initial emails may not contain all details to all questions, information will be forthcoming. Principals will reach out to parents tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 16.
Thank you for your continued support of our teachers and staff as they work to provide the safest and best learning environment for your children.
Dr. Jerry Thacker
Superintendent of Schools
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation