Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee

October 7, 2021

COVID Case Update

As of today, October 6, 2021, Masconomet has the following number of reported COVID Cases:

New Covid Cases for September and October 2021

 SeptemberOctoberTotal
High School Students15015
Middle School Students213
Faculty101
Totals18119

Our case numbers have been trending downward since the opening of school:

New COVID Cases by Week, 9/8 – 10/6

 New COVID-19 Cases
9/8/21 – 9/15/218
9/16/21 – 9/22/216
9/23/21 – 9/29/213
9/30/21 – 10/6/212
Total19

COVID Testing Programs Update

On September 21st, Masconomet, in conjunction with the Tri-Town School Union, started a Test and Stay Program for students who are unvaccinated, in-school close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual.  Once Dr. Morrison and I realized that we could not rely on resources from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, we decided to implement a testing center at Masconomet High School for all Masconomet Middle and High School Students and for Tri-Town Union students in grades 3-6.  Combining what was potentially 8 testing sites (6 for the TTU and 2 for Masco) into one central location allowed us to maximize what resources we had and get our program started as quickly as possible.

For the first two weeks of operation, this site was staffed from 6:50 to 8:30 AM by the senior leadership from both the Masconomet Regional District and the Tri-Town School Union, including Masconomet’s Asst. Superintendents Jeff Sands and Patty Bullard, Asst. Director of Student Services Brad Denton, Director of Information Technology Vin Ruocco, and me, and Superintendent Scott Morrison, Asst. Superintendents Steve Greenberg, and Matt LeCava, Nurse Leader Brianna Posanka and Admin Asst. Katie Glynn from the Tri-Town Union.  Our local public health departments supplemented this administrative staff with Public Health Nurses Julia Lobel and Joan Fitzpatrick, who conducted the actual testing.  I’d like to thank all of these individuals for going way above and beyond the normal call of duty to get the testing center up and running.

By the end of the first week, Dr. Morrison and I were able to make our concerns known to leadership at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and CIC Health, the company hired by DESE to run the school-based testing programs in Massachusetts, and received the staffing from CIC necessary to operate our testing center without a reliance on Masconomet or Tri-Town personnel.  On Monday, October 4th, we were able to turn the primary responsibility for operating the testing center over to personnel from CIC Health with one administrator from either the Tri-Town or Masconomet in attendance to provide support.  In the almost three weeks the Test and Stay Program has been in operation, sixteen Masconomet students have been able to continue to attend classes during the period after their in-school exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual.

Working with CIC Health, we have also been able to institute a Symptomatic Testing Program for Masconomet and the Tri-Town Union.  Personnel from CIC Health are now stationed at Masconomet High School during the school day and are ready to test any symptomatic individual from Masconomet Middle or High School or at any one of the Tri-Town Elementary Schools.  This past Monday, I sent families a link to an online consent form.   https://www.cic-health.com/consent/ma?district=Masconomet  Completing the consent form is required for students to participate in both the Test and Stay and Symptomatic Testing programs.  Completing the online form ahead of time will allow students to enter either program without having to wait until we receive parent consent.

Finally, the simplest way to remain in school after any exposure to COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.  Fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual are exempt from any quarantine or testing protocols as long as they remain asymptomatic.  Vaccines are widely available in Massachusetts.  Go to https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to find a vaccination site near you. 

DESE Mask Mandate

On Monday, September 27th, DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley announced the extension of the mask mandate for students in Massachusetts K-12 public schools through November 1st.  The Commissioner also announced that schools that have reached 80% vaccination rate in both staff and students may allow vaccinated individuals to attend school unmasked.  This could take effect as soon as October 15th after a school certified to DESE that it had reached the 80% vaccination threshold. 

Masconomet has been in the process of gathering vaccination data for staff and students through the month of September.  Student information is currently being imported from the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS) and is updated on a weekly basis.  District staff have been asked to provide a copy of their immunization card to our Human Resource Department.  The table below shows Masconomet’s vaccination rates as of October 5, 2021.

Masconomet Vaccination Rates as of October 5, 2021

Group Vaccination Rate
MS Students (1)68.74%
HS Students (1)79.14%
All District Staff (2)80.79%
All MASCO76.22%
* – Methodology follows DESE Policy on Vaccination Thresholds dated September 27, 2021. (1) Source: Direct data feed from Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS) (2) Source: Survey of District Employees requesting Proof of Vaccination Status 

Another factor in our ability to allow vaccinated students to attend school without masks is the Boxford Board of Public Health’s Emergency Order Requiring Face Coverings.  I’ve inquired with the Boxford Board of Health as to whether their Order would supersede DESE’s 80% threshold.  On October 4th, I received a letter from Dick Taylor, the Chair of the Boxford Board of Health, informing me that the Board of Health has approved an exemption from the Emergency Order Requiring Face Coverings for Masconomet as long as the following conditions are met: 

  1. That Masco receive written approval from DESE allowing unmasking of vaccinated students and staff. We will require a copy of  that written approval.
  2. That, as made clear in the DESE Communication of 27 September 2021, unvaccinated students and staff shall continue to be required to wear masks.  We will require your confirmation that this will be done and how you will enforce this requirement.

Enforcing the requirement that unvaccinated students continue to wear masks is going to be an issue going forward.  On our October 1st conference call with DESE, superintendents asked DESE for guidance on how we could enforce this requirement without violating student privacy rights by identifying unvaccinated students.  We were told to expect more information from DESE on this as we get closer to October 15th

Congratulations to High School Guidance Counselor Nick Ely

Masconomet High School Guidance Counselor Nick Ely was awarded the 2021 Yale Educator Award.  The Yale Educator Recognition Program recognizes outstanding educators from around the world who have supported and inspired their students to achieve at high levels. Matriculating students to Yale University are invited to nominate high school educators for this award, and a committee composed of Yale admissions officers reviews the nominations individually and designates recipients.  Of this year’s 305 nominees, who represent 38 states and 17 countries, 50 teachers and 21 counselors were selected to receive the award. Mr. Ely was nominated by Justin Crosby of the Class of 2021.  Congratulations, Mr. Ely!

Published by mascosuper

Superintendent of the Masconomet Regional School District

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