Superintendent's Update - September 10, 2020
Dear Monomoy Families,
I know the latest release of the Massachusetts map for Community-Level new COVID-19 cases finds Chatham in the “red zone" (meaning more than 8 new cases of COVID-19 per day per 100,000 people). As I've said before, the state mapping gives us one useful metric, but lacks context and isn't very meaningful when looking at small communities like Harwich and, in particular, Chatham, where the town's populations are just over 12,000 and 6,000, respectively.
Our Lead Nurse, Cheryl Dufault, and I have been in contact with both the Chatham and Harwich Health Departments. With communicable illnesses like COVID-19 (or measles, whooping cough, etc.) health care workers are mandated to report cases to local Boards of Health and the state in order to protect the greater public health with real-time information. As of writing this email, none of the current cases being tracked in Chatham and Harwich are Monomoy staff, students, or close contacts to either.
This is the second time this summer that a COVID cluster has been connected to generally seasonal workers in local restaurants. In both the previous and present cases, local health officials have emphasized that the incidents have been isolated and there is no evidence of community spread. Four of the individuals from the recent Squire cluster are Harwich residents and two are Chatham residents.
Chatham’s Director of Health and Natural Resources, Dr. Robert Duncanson, has noted that Chatham is expected to remain in the red zone this week and next but, given the isolated cluster, should return to gray status when the next report is released on Sept. 23.
When determining whether schools should shift from in-person to distance learning, the state’s Community-Level COVID-19 map is one important data point. Given the small size of our communities, it doesn’t take many cases to move one of our towns into the “red zone.” The most important metric that immediately will influence our response is whether a staff member or student who has been in our schools tests positive or whether there is evidence of community spread behind the shading in the state’s map. At present, neither has happened, and Monomoy will begin in-person learning on Monday (barring any new information).
If a student or staff member is identified by a health care professional as being COVID positive or presumed COVID positive, they are told by our nurses to quarantine, work with their primary care physician to be tested, and to not return to school until cleared to do so (by testing negative, quarantining for 10 days, and remaining symptom-free for 24 hours). Those identified by a health care professional as a close contact must quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive. Students who live with an individual who tests positive should follow the same close contact protocols. See the attached document for more details on protocols.
We continue to be transparent with any additional information we receive.
Scott Carpenter, Ed.D.
Monomoy Regional School District