Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee, 12/15/21

COVID Case Report

Our COVID case numbers continue to reflect the surge that is going on in Massachusetts and nationally.  The number of new positive COVID cases for the two-week period from December 2nd through December 15th has climbed to 16.  This is up from 10 for the preceding two-week period.  We are now up to a total of 59 cases for the 2021-2022 school year.  The following chart depicts the number of cases by week and reflects the upward trend in COVID cases since the beginning of November.

The following chart shows the case counts by school and month.  We continue to see an increase in the number of positive cases at the Middle School relative to the number of total cases.  Nine of the 18 (50%) positive cases in December are Middle School Students. 

Students who are close contacts to any COVID case continue to be notified of this by their schools.  Fully vaccinated students who are close contacts are exempt from quarantining and are asked to monitor for symptoms.  Unvaccinated close contacts who remain asymptomatic are also invited to participate in our Test and Stay Program.  Since the beginning of our Test and Stay Program in September, 121 individuals have taken 169 tests.  We have had three positive tests of the 169 administered which is 1.7%.  One of these three was a false-positive result.  Because of our Test and Stay program, 118 individuals have been able to remain in school after being exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual.

COVID Vaccination Update

I’m pleased to report that our COVID vaccination rates have increased to a total of 81.2%.  This is up from 78.35% on November 30th.  The Middle School vaccination rate has increased to 74.29%, which is up from 69.75% on November 30th

Masco Vaccination Rates* as of 12/14/21November 16, 2021November 30, 2021December 7, 2021December 14, 2021
MS Students169.41%69.75%73.78%74.29%
HS Students179.87%80.12%82.34%82.53%
All Staff288.78%89.14%89.14%90.16%
Total77.05%78.35%80.78%81.20%

Because we have reached the 80% vaccination threshold set by Commissioner Riley, we have applied for a waiver to allow vaccinated individuals to attend school without a mask.  We expect to hear back from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding this application by the end of this week.  If the waiver is approved, we will then begin discussions with the Boxford Board of Health regarding their Public Health Order that all individuals in public buildings wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.  I spoke with Kendell Longo, Public Health Agent for the Town of Boxford, today to let her know that we anticipate receiving the waiver from DESE this week and that we will be reaching out to the Boxford Board of Heath after we receive the waiver.  As we still have many details to work out, we should not anticipate any changes to our mask mandate until later in January at the earliest.

Again, our data show that a much higher percentage of positive COVID cases at Masconomet are in our unvaccinated individuals.  Based on our 81.2% vaccination rate, unvaccinated individuals at Masconomet are infected at a rate that is roughly 7.5 times greater than that of vaccinated individuals.  (Vaccinated rate of infection is 21 per 1624 vaccinated individuals or 1.2%.  Unvaccinated rate of infection is 34 per 376 unvaccinated individuals or 9%)  The clear message is to get vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vaccinations do make a difference.

Masco Vaccination Status, 12/15/21Number of Positive Cases
Unvaccinated34
Vaccinated21
No Vaccination Data Available 4
Total Positive Cases59

Use of At-Home COVID Test Kits

I wanted to share some information that comes from our Community Public Health Nurse, Julia Lobel.  According to the MA DPH and DESE, if your child or a member in your household tests positive on an at-home COVID test kit, such as those sold over the counter at pharmacies, your child, or member of your household, must isolate for a minimum of 10 days and seek confirmatory PCR testing, ideally within 48 hours of home testing. All at-home COVID test kits are not created equally and are not official test results, so they are not reliable for use in the school community.  At-home test results are also not reported in the state public health system; therefore, the local board of health is unable to follow up with cases and perform contact tracing base on an at-home positive test result. Your child cannot be cleared to return to school using these test kits and they may put your child in an extended quarantine.  If you have specific questions regarding this protocol please reach out directly to your school’s Health Office.

Booster Clinic for Masconomet Employees

I want to thank Julia Lobel and the Public Health Departments of Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield for arranging a vaccine booster clinic for Masconomet Employees.  The clinic will take place during the school day on Friday, December 17th. All Masconomet employees received an email earlier this week with instructions on how to register for a booster shot appointment.

Happy Holidays!

Our last day of school for 2021 will be on Wednesday, December 22nd.  Schools will re-open on Monday January 3rd.  I want to wish everyone a happy holiday and a happy and healthy 2022.

Published by mascosuper

Superintendent of the Masconomet Regional School District

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