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Superintendent's Update - January 2, 2022

Dear Monomoy families and staff -

Happy New Year! I hope you were able to enjoy a healthy and happy holiday break. I know that for many of you, as it did for me, COVID sadly forced the cancellation of travel or family gatherings. COVID rates locally are nearly twice as high as they were this time last year, but we actually are in a much better place. The vaccines are working and doing what vaccines are supposed to do: keeping people from getting seriously ill. As such, local hospitalization rates and deaths due to COVID are about half what they were this time last year. In short, there's a lot more COVID going around, and thankfully most people are now protected from serious illness.

As we prepare to return to school Monday, January 3, 2022, we are taking steps to help ensure a safe return for staff and students amid this latest wave. 

The state Department of Education has provided rapid tests for teachers and staff to use just prior to students returning to classrooms tomorrow morning. We have spent the weekend preparing these test kits. While I wish there was a way to provide tests to all students as well, the state only made enough available for staff. If you have rapid tests at home -- which I know are increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain -- please consider testing students tomorrow morning prior to heading into school. We also will be holding our weekly pooled testing tomorrow morning and will have results of those highly accurate PCR tests by Tuesday morning.

If your household had positive COVID cases over the break, please email your school nurse as soon as possible so that they can offer support and give guidance on the quarantine period needed. The CDC has released new guidelines for those testing positive and those exposed to COVID – we are evaluating the new guidelines with local health officials and our district physician and will likely revise our quarantine protocols in the upcoming days. For the time being, Monomoy will continue our current quarantine protocols. I'll keep you updated on any changes to our quarantine protocols.

The state has also provided a number of KN95 masks for our teachers and staff. With more transmissible variants, the current recommendation is to use well-fitting masks that are snug to the face, have at least two layers and a nose wire, and completely cover the nose and mouth. We ask for your support in ensuring students have masks that meet these criteria and that they understand the expectation and need for appropriate mask-wearing. As always, school offices have extra surgical masks on hand for students who need them, and our team can give tips on helping those masks fit more snugly (such as crossing or knotting straps). 

As we near the two-year mark on this pandemic, I know that we are all exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically, from the stress and uncertainty. As we move forward into 2022, our best approach is to choose the next right thing at each step. Working together, we will get through this.

Take care.

Scott Carpenter, Superintendent
Monomoy Regional School District