Mask Policy Update: A Message from Maura Joyce

Parent Zone Home button
Maura Joyce, Head of School

Dear Post Oak Community,

As I referenced in my previous communications: December 17, December 31, and January 28, Post Oak has been preparing to move towards lifting our mask mandate indoors for students and staff. As predicted, numbers of cases and hospitalizations are rapidly decreasing and the Omicron surge is waning. 

First and foremost, I want to acknowledge that not everyone’s experience with COVID-19 over the two years of the pandemic has been the same. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty that comes with living in this way, and it is justified. Not everyone has the same immunological health, some of us live with compromised family members, we may know someone with long COVID-19, or those who have died, others work in the health profession and see the daily impact of the virus. We are not out of this yet, and both what we know and don’t know can be unsettling.

Throughout the pandemic, you have watched Post Oak make decisions intentionally and carefully to maintain a safe place for its community members. We have been cautious throughout and believe we are being so now. We continue to take in all of the information we can and weigh the complexity of physical health and safety, psychological well-being, and delivering on our mission to provide an outstanding Montessori learning environment. It has not been easy for any of us—students, staff, families.

Each time we have made a change—moving to in-person learning, dismantling cohorts, going mask-optional outside—there is a transition period that includes hesitation, anxiety, questions, and adjustments as we acclimate to the new format. Required, universal masking has served us well up to this point, and it is time to move into the next phase.

Masks will be optional at Post Oak both outdoors and indoors on campus beginning Tuesday, February 22. Moving to a mask optional policy does not mean that we are flipping a switch, and that masks have to disappear. Nor does it mean that Post Oak does not support the use of masks; we do. We ask all community members to assess their personal risk, level of comfort, and preference in choosing to wear a mask or not, as we transition from the school mask requirement. 

Post Oak asks all of you to remain in partnership with us as we make this transition. We continue to adhere to the following recommendations and practices:

  • Encouragement of all eligible community members to get vaccinated and boosted. We request all families submit vaccination records to the school through Magnus. These records are held in confidence and not shared amongst students, faculty, or staff.
  • Requiring all staff and students stay home if they are ill. Please contact the school nurse, Judith McDonald, if your student has been in close contact with an infected person, is symptomatic, or is diagnosed with COVID-19. 
  • Practice of regular hand washing and sanitizing 
  • Enhanced ventilation of our learning environments 
  • Maximizing opportunities for outdoor learning and play
  • Masks will remain welcome in all spaces.

Keep in mind that switching to mask optional will require slight adjustments to our return to school/work guidelines for student illness and quarantine. We will clearly communicate these changes next week. All community members are welcome to wear a mask at any time. Students may still be required to wear masks at any partner agencies or at student travel destinations that require them.  

This change still requires us to be a community that is dedicated to keeping each other safe. This transition focuses on personal responsibility to assess our individual risks to this virus, and we must all remain vigilant about symptoms. It also provides us an opportunity to respect each person’s choice.

We will maintain our flexibility and return to masking if another wave of the virus necessitates.

We teach grace and courtesy to our students as young as 14 months, and we are grateful to you for helping us extend those values throughout the community as we care for the health and safety of one another. As we proceed into this next phase of COVID-19, we thank you for your patience and continued partnership.