Hello Bellevue Families,
For the first time in two years, on Monday, March 14, children and staff will come and go to schools without any requirement that they wear face coverings. We recognize and honor the decisions by the authorities to remove the mask mandate. We fully understand that some will celebrate the sunsetting of the mandates, while others will feel tremendously vulnerable and unsafe. For example, for someone with a compromised immune system, wearing a mask is a necessity.
In short, mine is a plea to recognize the significance of the masks, while still enabling the transition to personal choice. As a school district, we want to emphasize and support the recommendations of the health authorities as they provide encouragement for us to use masks as effective personal protection. Masks have been critical in helping us keep children in school, and for many children and staff, masks will remain key to being in school. We welcome those electing masks and will do everything possible to support the effective supply and use of masks.
I would emphasize that the schools must foster social standards that fully support differing personal choices. As a school district, and as individuals, we must respect the choices made by others, even when different from our own. To that end, I want to further emphasize that negative comments about another person’s choice will be considered harassment.
It gets more difficult when teachers, principals, and school staff make recommendations to students in response to special situations such as students or staff who may be more vulnerable to the COVID virus. Those recommendations by “school authorities” may become confused with directives and expectations. We will avoid making such special recommendations. Persons with special circumstances will be encouraged to request accommodations, and the procedures for those accommodations are established and less confusing.
In the end, we must recognize the ever-changing nature of our responses to health needs. We ask for your understanding to help us take this step from mandate to personal choice. We commit to ensuring that every child is against bullying, harassment, or pressure because of their personal choice. We will do everything we can to supply masks for those electing continued use, or to identify the source of high-quality protection. Also, we will continue to share the advice of the health authorities. We remind everyone that this step has become an option because of the continuing progress in vaccinations, and we will continue our partnership in offering clinics as needed. Thank you.
Dr. Art Jarvis
Interim Superintendent, BSD 405