Superintendent's Weekly Update (12/18/2020)
Weekly Update: Friday, December 18, 2020
Updated District Quarantine and Travel Guidelines
Recently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) updated their guidelines for quarantine and travel. After consulting with the District’s Medical Advisory Team (MAT), and revisiting the District’s quarantine and travel requirements, a recommendation was made at the Combined School Committee meeting to better align the District’s quarantine and travel requirements with the CDC and DPH. On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, the Northborough, Southborough, and Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committees approved the updated requirements. I’d like to point out that there are differences from the District’s requirements compared to the CDCs. I encourage families to reach out to our school nurses or Mary Ellen Duggan, Director of Health and Wellness if you have any specific questions. I also want to thank families for their continued support and diligence in helping keep our students, faculty, and staff safe.
Link to updated requirements: District Quarantine and Travel Guidelines
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ARHS Will Shift to Remote Learning on January 5, 2021, and January 6, 2021
Algonquin Regional High School will shift to remote learning on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, and Wednesday, January 6, 2021, to allow students to participate in COVID-19 screening, post December break.. Algonquin Regional High School will return to the hybrid model on January 7, 2021. Prek-8 will begin in a hybrid model on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
Mary Ellen Duggan, director of Health and Wellness, and the Medical Advisory Team will communicate more details, as well as why having students participate in this no-cost COVID-19 screening is beneficial to the District staying in a in-person learning model.
Navigating the Holiday Season in a Pandemic - Authored by Dr. Safdar Medina
Families look forward to gathering with relatives and friends, exchanging gifts, and celebrating traditions during the holiday season. This year, the need for physical distancing will bring new challenges, but the season can still be joyful and memorable.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, gatherings with people outside your household continue to be risky this holiday season. Gatherings with non-household members contributed to the rise in COVID-19 cases this fall. Please remember our shared community goals are to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and allow in-person learning to continue, which is vital to our children’s well being.
Children, from preschoolers to adolescents, model their parents’ actions and behaviors. If we remain positive this holiday season, follow the guidelines, wear masks, and social distance, our children will be more likely to do all these things as well.
Some tips to enjoy the holiday season while lowering the risk of being exposed or spreading COVID-19:
Celebrate in person only with members of your own household. Find creative ways to enjoy as many traditions as you can remotely with family and friends, such as singing songs and opening gifts.
Take the time to volunteer and give back to the community. Work as a family to collect toys for children in need, donate to food drives, or help an elderly neighbor by ordering food for them online and doing outdoor chores for them.
Explore your family's culture, heritage, and spiritual beliefs or research about other traditions. Cook together, either enjoying old family recipes or trying new ones. Prepare food with others over video chat.
Enjoy this family time together. Bring out board games to play. Consider making special cloth face coverings to wear during the holiday season. There are plenty of spots in Massachusetts open for easy winter hikes.
Aim to be present in the moment. Teach kids to use mindfulness and relaxation to cut down on stress.
Public health officials are strongly discouraging any gathering with non-household members. However, if you decide to have an in-person get-together, please make sure everyone understands that gatherings with people outside your household can be risky. Set the expectation that rules must be followed by everyone and review them in detail with your children. A negative COVID-19 test before a gathering does not mean rules do not have to be followed. Here are some ways to keep everyone safe:
Keep the gathering small and short. Reduce the amount of time you would usually visit. Follow state guidelines.
Have your guests do a self-screening checklist and ask them to join you virtually if they realize they are at higher risk of exposing others to COVID-19.
Remind everyone they must wear masks and keep their distance. People who live together can sit together, but arrange for those from different households to stay at least 6 feet apart.
Do not share a traditional meal with non-household members. Consider having guests bring their own food or have individually wrapped food ready for guests to eat. Eat outside if possible, or have each household eat in a different room.
Open windows for better ventilation and stay outside if weather permits. Stay a safe distance apart from others and wear masks, even when outside.
(Written by embers of the District’s Medical Advisory Team, Kristin Black, PhD, MS, Northborough Health Agent, and Andrea Ciaranello, MD, MPH, Infectious Disease Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital)
Thank you for your continued commitment to keeping our schools and community safe. Have a memorable and healthy holiday season.
Covid-19 District Dashboard
IMPORTANT A shift from Hybrid to Remote Learning Model - December 22 and 23
Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s):
As we look ahead to the next eight school days, I want to update you on a shift in learning models from a Hybrid Learning Model to a Remote Learning Model on Tuesday, December 22, 2020, and Wednesday, December 23, 2020 (Half-Day). All students and programs will be remote on these two days. Educators, service providers, and specialists will follow their typical Tuesday and Wednesday schedules, as it is important that we maintain routines and schedules for our students.
The District will conduct its weekly COVID-19 screening for all employees on Friday, December 18, 2020. Testing employees on December 18, 2020, and not having students participate in in-person learning on December 22 and 23, 2020, will prevent the possibility of in-school virus transmission as students and educators begin their December break.
Secondarily, Mary Ellen Duggan, the Medical Advisory Team, and I have been discussing pathways for COVID-19 screening of Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) students before the December break to establish a baseline of the prevalence of the COVID-19 Virus in the student population.
Shifting to remote on December 22nd and 23rd will allow the District to pool nursing resources to enable ARHS students to participate in COVID-19 screening. The plan is to provide ARHS students in Cohort B with the opportunity to participate in the COVID-19 screening on Monday, December 21, 2020. Students in Cohort A will have the opportunity to participate in the COVID-19 screening on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. Participation is optional.
Upon return from the break, Algonquin Regional High School will shift to remote learning on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, and Wednesday, January 6, 2021, to allow students to participate in COVID-19 screening. Algonquin Regional High School will return to the hybrid model on January 7, 2021. Prek-8 will begin in a hybrid model on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
The Nursing Team has done amazing work implementing a testing program and has developed protocols and procedures for screening that can be replicated with ARHS students.
I’m available if you have any questions.
Gregory L. Martineau
Superintendent of Schools
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