COVID Case Update
The Masconomet Regional School District has seen a large increase in reported COVID cases in students and staff over the holiday break. Between December 21st and this morning, we have received reports of 40 individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. This number is equal to the number of reported cases in the period from October 29th through December 21st. Through our contact tracing process with the Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield Health Departments, we have established that only two of the 40 individuals were in school while they were contagious. Through our contact tracing process, we have also established that none of these individuals contracted COVID-19 through contact while they were in school. We’ve been informed by our public health professionals that the most common mode of transmission is within households, where one family member is infected outside of the home and then, in turn, infects the other family members in the household.
The Towns of Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield have joined to hire a Public Health Nurse to work directly with the Masconomet and Tri-Town School Departments. Julia Lobel was hired for this position in late November and has quickly gotten up to speed in working with the school districts. I want to thank the towns for making this commitment. I know it has helped alleviate some of the pressure that was on our local health departments and has already proved valuable in coordinating the quarantining of positive cases and identification and notification of close contacts.
2021 MCAS Testing
Last month, I received notice from DESE that the MCAS Test administration that was originally scheduled for this month had been postponed. On January 5, I received an update from DESE Commissioner Riley regarding the MCAS. The Commissioner has proposed several modifications to the MCAS for the spring of 2021 including:
- The postponement of the make-up MCAS administration for students in 12th grade. The Commissioner has proposed allowing current seniors who have not met the passing MCAS score in ELA and Mathematics to demonstrate proficiency through earning a passing grade in an approved Masconomet Course in lieu of earning a passing MCAS score.
- A “significantly reduced” MCAS test for students in grades 3-8 through the use of a “session sampling approach.” This will impact the administration of the spring MCAS sessions to our Masconomet Middle School Students in the March – May timeframe.
- The Commissioner has stated he will not name or recommend any new schools or districts as “underperforming” or “chronically underperforming” in the upcoming school year. DESE will also consider any available flexibilities that may be provided by the US Department of Education.
- The testing window for the ACCESS test of English language proficiency, which normally concludes in February, has been extended through May 20, 2021.
- Last spring DESE waived the requirement of passing an MCAS Science Test for students in the classes of 2020-2023. The Commissioner has now provided districts the flexibility of offering the MCAS Biology Test to members of the class of 2024 (current 9th grade) in June of 2021 instead of February.