COVID-19 Weekly Screening for Students
Weekly Update: (A day early) Friday, January 29, 2021
District’s Plan to Increase In-person Learning
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s):
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller. The partnership between educators and families has never been more critical as the COVID-19 Pandemic has required parents, educators, and students to adapt, adjust, and accommodate. I know it has not been an easy journey for many families, educators, and students. I am grateful for these partnerships and humbled to have the opportunity to lead The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough during these challenging times.
Over the past several weeks, I have presented the Family Learning Model Survey results to the school committees. These data have provided the District with insight into growth areas and families’ thoughts about and interest in increasing in-person learning to four days a week. I have linked the three presentations for your information: Northborough Family Learning Model Survey Results, Southborough Family Learning Model Survey Results, and ARHS Family Learning Model Survey Results.
As we look to the weeks and months ahead, the District’s goal is to increase students’ in-person learning. The District has begun the planning and preparation to increase learning to four days per week. The District will first focus on increasing in-person learning at grades kindergarten through grade five, and then, once implemented, it will focus on grades six through twelve.
Families are critical stakeholders in this process and will have the option of four in-person days a week (Monday will remain remote) or the Stand Alone Remote Program (SARP). A family’s selection of a learning model will be for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year, and families will not have the option to switch models. On Monday, February 1, 2021, I will share a form that asks families to select either four in-person days a week or the SARP. The form will close on Sunday, February 7, 2021, at 5:00 PM. The District will interpret a family’s ‘no response’ as a family's decision to have their child remain in his/her current learning model (Hybrid students would shift to four days and SARP students would remain in SARP).
To provide families with information to make decisions, the District is hosting a Parent and Guardian Increased In-Person Learning (for K-5 students) Webinar. The Webinar will feature The Medical Advisory Team (MAT), principals, and District leaders. The MAT will provide an overview of the current medical research, and the District team will answer questions. To sign up for the Webinar, please click the link below. Kindergarten through grade five will be the main focus.
The NSboro Parent Webinar: The Path Forward - Increasing In-Person Learning
When: Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
*The Webinar will be recorded and made available
- Provide weekly COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, and staff
- Each Monday will remain a remote learning day to allow District to conduct contact tracing after screening students on Thursday or Friday of the prior week
- Sign up for weekly student pooled screening
- Maintain six-feet of social distancing during lunches
- Maintain social distancing of four to six feet in classrooms. We would endeavor to maintain the greatest social distancing possible. Most classrooms would be closer to five to six feet.
- Continue mask-wearing
- Continue hand-washing
- Continue screening of symptoms
- Disband the hybrid model and implement a Four-Day In-Person Model
- Continue Stand Alone Remote Program
- Endeavor to not disrupt teacher assignments and student placements. This will not be possible for students who shift models.
The District is committed to partnering with families throughout this process. Our students, faculty, and staff’s health and safety remain the highest priorities. The District is committed to implementing its plan for increased in-person learning; however, the COVID-19 Pandemic remains dynamic and the District will continue to make evidence-based decisions based on the most current research and data.
Gregory L. Martineau
Superintendent of Schools
How do I sign my child up for the COVID-19 weekly screening
As the District prepares for adding students to its weekly COVID-19 screening, which will begin in early February, I am asking families to sign-up in advance. The weekly screening is optional. Participating in the screening will help us to evaluate if there are any asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals in our school community. Screening is an additional tool we can use to help slow the spread of the virus. We highly encourage families to have their children participate as an additional strategy to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
- Student PCR screening will take place each week beginning in early February.
- The swab will be a self-collection. Families will collect the sample in the morning at home and send it to school the same day.
- The screening is a PCR test which is the ‘gold standard’ in COVID-19 testing.
- The individual samples are ‘pooled’ at the lab. This allows for individual retesting of the samples in the positive pool and the ability to identify the positive test without collecting new samples.
- Individual privacy and HIPPA compliance will be maintained.
- More information will be shared next week.
The Take-Home Kit
The kit will contain everything you need in one small box. It will be sent home with your child at the beginning of the week for return on Thursday or Friday, depending on cohort in-person days.
Collection Process (Observed by the parent or guardian at home)
The swab is then placed in the tube.
The cap is placed on the tube.
The tube is placed in the provided plastic bag and brought to school.
Collected at School and Sent to Lab for Pooled Testing
Detect Positive Cases
Students will participate in weekly PCR COVID-19 screening.
The tests are pooled at the lab to save costs and time. Pools will include up to 16 samples. If a pool is positive, the individual(s) in the pool who are COVID-19 positive are identified through further processing at the lab with the original sample. There is no need for additional sample collection.
The process takes up to 48 hours. The District is planning on having samples returned to school on Thursday and Friday of each week. The pools will be shipped to the lab and results will be known by the end of the day on Sunday each week. Positive individuals will be notified before starting in-person learning each week.
Covid-19 District Dashboard
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Removes Requirement for Flu Vaccination
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is removing the requirement for flu vaccination for attendance in childcare/preschool, primary, secondary and postsecondary education. Preliminary data show that this has been a mild flu season to date, presumably as people have received their seasonal flu vaccine and have been adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing due to COVID-19. Given the intensive Commonwealth-wide efforts regarding COVID-19 vaccination, DPH wants to alleviate the burden to obtain flu vaccination and focus on continuing our COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
DPH continues to strongly recommend that everyone age six months and older receive their seasonal flu vaccine each year.
MA Department of Public Health
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