Superintendent's Update - March 20, 2021
Dear Monomoy families,
One year ago this week, we were preparing for something we had never done before: leading our entire district through remote, online learning for all students. The COVID pandemic created an urgent need to pivot quickly, and our school community stepped up. While this year has included many challenges, it has also allowed us to see how flexible students, teachers, and families can be, when the need arises. It is a time that will certainly go down in history books, and we have weathered it together.
In reflecting on this year, I continue to be so proud of our team, our students, and our families. While nearly half of the districts across Massachusetts have not had any in-person learning in a year and are now struggling to meet the latest requirements from the state Department of Education to return to full in-person learning, Monomoy is in its seventh month of in-person learning for the majority of its students. That would not have been possible without the support and innovation of our teachers, staff, and administrators. We have truly led the way during this crisis and it’s for the benefit of our students.
As much as I wish the pandemic were over, it’s important to remember that it’s decidedly not. Cases among young people are increasing in recent weeks, with the past week having the highest number of positive cases in our schools yet. Neighboring districts are seeing similar upticks in cases in children, and similar trends are being seen statewide. It’s good news that more older people are getting vaccinated, reducing hospitalizations and deaths, but young people are still very vulnerable. Our pooled testing program, now in its third week, has resulted in two positive pools, with follow-up rapid testing to identify the specific cases, which has allowed us to intervene before spread happened to classmates, school staff, or loved ones at home. There also have been additional cases identified separate from the pooled testing.
Pooled testing is working as intended to identify asymptomatic cases, which will help lessen spread. The greater the participation, the more accurate the data will be and the better we will be able to keep students, staff, and families safe and healthy. With approximately 50% of our students and staff participating, we are not necessarily getting the most accurate picture possible for the true number of asymptomatic cases in our schools. The testing process is fast, painless, and easy, and can have a big impact on the health and safety of our schools and community. You can still participate in pooled testing by sending a consent form to Toni London at email@example.com.
With rates among young people on the rise, masking, distancing, and avoiding indoor gatherings continue to be important. Our own behavior is one of our most powerful tools in stemming the spread of COVID.
We continue to work to help our educators get vaccinated, and are pleased that there are more and more vaccinated teachers and staff each day. The Governor announced this week that youth 16 years of age and older will be eligible for the vaccine in Massachusetts starting April 19. After a year of loss and uncertainty, we are making plans for a return to normalcy for the upcoming school year, but for now we all must take the necessary actions to get there.
Dr. Scott Carpenter, Superintendent
Monomoy Regional School District