Update on desk shields
Thu, Oct 22 2:52pm
Dear Bugbee Community,
 
Thank you to those of you who have so generously donated to the PTO in support of our school these past few weeks, and to those who’ve expressed your support for our efforts to supply desk shields for all of our Bugbee students in grades 3-5.  As many of you may know, desk shields were originally purchased over the summer for students in grades K-2.  When the district started the school year in the hybrid model, half of the desk shields were shared with grades 3-5.  At the district level the decision was made to utilize the existing shields for K-2 upon yesterday’s transition to full in-person. 
 
In the past couple of weeks many parents reached out to the PTO with concerns that these desk shields were not available to the students in grades 3-5.  Understandably, several parents expressed interest in acquiring a shield for their child to use during snack and indoor lunchtimes when students would be unmasked, or told us that they had already done so.  Recognizing the potential for inequity if only some of the Bugbee students desks were equipped with shields, the PTO made the decision to purchase them at no cost to families for every student in grades 3-5.  At the time, PTO took into consideration the fact that the Bugbee cafeteria would be unavailable for use this year, and we were unaware at the time of the availability of face shields for our students.
 
After moving forward with this purchase, the district leadership informed us that the usage of desk shields for grades 3-5 would not be allowed, as both the availability of similar measures for all grades 3-5 throughout the district could not be assured, and the efficacy of the shields in mitigation was in question.  As ensuring fair and equal access for all the students within the Bugbee PTO scope of influence was precisely the reason for our decision to purchase the shields, we are clearly sympathetic to the importance of the same throughout the district.  While we continue to explore other potential strategies that might maximize both physical and emotional health and safety for all students throughout the district (including coordinating with other elementary PTOs), the district demands that we not proceed with the usage of the shields at Bugbee at this time.  We are gathering more information about practices and procedures across the district and we have a strong desire to continue to engage with the district to develop equitable solutions that prioritize our students' safety in support of the PTO’s mission as advocates for the entire Bugbee community.
 
In the meantime, the school has informed us that they have a face shield for every student in grades 3-5. Face shields, often used in hospital settings, are a second layer of protection for our students, and are intended for use when students are eating a snack, lunch or any other indoor scenario where masks may be removed.  We welcome this measure and strongly support the use of face shields throughout Bugbee in all grades, including K-2.
 
We are still evaluating what to do with the shields we purchased.  Regardless, we will of course promptly refund any donation made at your request.
 
Thank you so much for your continued support and care.  We encourage you to reach out to us (bugbeepto@gmail.com) and to others in our school district with any thoughts, suggestions and feedback as we navigate these unprecedented times.
 
With sincere appreciation,
The Bugbee PTO