Milford schools

“A sign that the tides are changing”


NEW MILFORD — Wearing masks in New Milford schools will become optional for students and staff on March 1, the Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night.

The council voted to repeal its policy that required the wearing of masks and face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning March 1, masks will no longer be required on school grounds or during school-sponsored activities unless required by law, except on school buses and transportation which are required by federal law, the board said.

The school mask decision stems from Gov. Ned Lamont’s announcement that the state will lift requirements that students, teachers and staff wear masks in schools, and instead transferred power to local leaders of decide for their districts.

The mask debate has led to hostile environments in many communities, with disrupted town meetings, angry emails and threatening Facebook posts.

In New Milford, parents seemed happy with the decision. Kimberly Rybicki-Ruskouski, whose 9-year-old daughter Emma Ruskouski attends schools in New Milford, said she thought the decision was “a big win”.

“Hopefully it’s a sign that the tides are changing,” Rybicki-Ruskouski said. “More and more people are coming together to defend their rights and the rights of their children.

Milford’s new mother, Ashley Wheatley, said she plans to enroll her 4-year-old daughter, Avery Repko, in kindergarten.

“I had waited to enroll my daughter this fall because I wasn’t sure what the mask situation would be,” Wheatley said.

Avery goes to preschool, where she wears a mask, “but she attends half a day and gets multiple mask breaks,” her mother said.

More Policy Changes

In a letter sent Wednesday morning to the New Milford Public School community, Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo wrote that, aside from the policy change on masks, vaccinations and required weekly testing are no longer mandatory for the school staff and volunteers, starting Wednesday.

In his letter, DiCorpro wrote that the district plans to remove all partitions during the April break so that when students return to school, the offices and cafeteria will look like the pre-pandemic building.

“Removing the partitions over the April break ensures that we have enough time and resources to complete the removal,” she added.

She wrote, however, with small group instruction, schools will leave partitions in place until updated guidelines are released by the state.

She said students and staff who show symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and can access a school-provided test if needed.

“We ask the entire NMPS community to be mindful and respectful of individual choice,” she wrote. “We will work together to make sure everyone in our schools feels comfortable and safe.”

In light of all the policy changes, Wendy Faulenbach, school board chair, said the board is “committed to continuing to address these challenges on behalf of our students, staff and community.”

Similar efforts to make masks optional are happening nearby, including in Region 12, New Fairfield, Bethel and Brookfield. Sherman planned to discuss the matter at a school board meeting on Wednesday evening.

[email protected] 203-948-9802

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