Dear Masconomet Community,
Over the past two years, we’ve implemented several layers of strategies designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep all members of our community safe. We began the 2020-2021 school year with masking, social distancing, hand hygiene and the development of an extensive contact tracing process where we identified and quarantined anyone who was a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual. As we moved into the 2021-2022 school year, the development of effective vaccines for COVID-19 allowed us to limit close contacts subject to quarantine to unvaccinated individuals who were exposed outside of school and to implement a “Test and Stay” Program that allowed unvaccinated individuals who were identified as in-school close contacts to remain in school as long as they participated in daily COVID testing.
These mitigation strategies have proven to be effective. In-school transmission of COVID-19 is a relatively rare occurrence. DESE has reported that unvaccinated students and staff identified as in-school close contacts who are tested through the test and stay program test negative over 90% of the time. (https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop/2022-0118new-testing-program.pdf). At Masconomet, our data is similar to that seen on the state level. Of the 363 rapid COVID tests administered at Masconomet since late September of 2021 to both in-school close contacts and to individuals exhibiting COVID symptoms, only 19, or 5%, have come back positive.
Because of the low incidence of COVID-19 spread in schools, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is recommending a change in our focus around testing to the identification of symptomatic individuals. This shift in testing strategy will entail the regular distribution of at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits to all students and staff who opt into this program. The expectation is that those who choose to participate will administer one rapid test each week on Sunday. If this test is positive, the individual will observe the mandated isolation period for COVID-positive individuals (currently 5 days after symptom onset or positive test result), and report their positive result to their school. Individuals are also highly recommended to report a positive test result to their physician. Along with this shift in focus to identifying symptomatic individuals, Masconomet will continue its symptomatic testing program for students and staff who develop symptoms during the school day. Along with this new testing plan, we will be discontinuing regular contact tracing and mandating isolation for asymptomatic close contacts and will be ending our Test and Stay Program on February 18th.
Our plan is to implement this shift to regular at-home COVID testing during the week of February 14th. During this week, all students and staff who opt into the new at-home program will be issued a rapid COVID-19 test kit with the expectation that one of the two tests in the kit will be used on Sunday, February 27th, the day before we return to school from February vacation week. Over the next two weeks, we will be sending out more information on this new program, including a link to sign up to receive the test kits.
Thanks for your continued support as we learn and adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the COVID pandemic.
Michael M. Harvey, Ed.D.
Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in the Tri-Towns
Here are links for upcoming COVID clinics for staff where they can get first, second and booster doses:
Standing clinics in Topsfield and Middleton on Thursdays for ages 12+ (5+ starting on Feb 3rd)
- Thursday Feb 3, 1-3pm Town Hall Topsfield
- Thursday Feb 10, 1-3pm Flint Library Middleton
- Thursday Feb 17, 1-3pm Town Hall Topsfield
- Thursday Feb 24, 1-3pm Flint Library Middleton
- Go to https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/capeann to register
Vaccine clinic at Masconomet:
- Saturday, 2/12 from 9:00 AM – noon for all Tri-Town residents ages 5-18 and Masconomet District Employees
- Private registration link: https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/capeann?calendar=ac182102-b245-4277-944e-660cfa726f95