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Superintendent's Update - January 4, 2022

Dear Monomoy families and staff,

As expected, our return to school following the holiday break has seen a number of COVID cases. The state provided rapid tests for our teachers and staff to use prior to classes on Monday -- those revealed three positive cases among asymptomatic individuals. Our weekly pooled testing revealed a larger number of cases than ever before -- we had a total of 29 positive or presumed positive pools this week. Prior to this week, our highest total was 9 positive pools in one week. Our nurses and administrators have been working nonstop all day to manage follow-up testing of positive pools to identify the case in each group, contact tracing, and communication to close contacts. With the heightened transmissibility of newer variants, every case that can be identified -- particularly among individuals who do not have symptoms -- will help prevent the spread of many more cases in our schools and community.

Throughout this pandemic, it has been important to adjust guidelines and recommendations based on new information and research. The CDC, DESE, and our local boards of health are all in agreement regarding revised quarantine periods. MRSD has now adopted those new quarantine guidelines. Positive individuals will now quarantine for 5 days and may return to school on Day 6 if symptom-free -- while continuing to mask around others through Day 10 (and will continue to mask at school, like everyone else). The new guidance also shortens the amount of time a close contact participates in Test and Stay (or quarantines at home, if opting not to participate in Test and Stay) to 5 days from the date of exposure (while also continuing mask wearing in all situations from 10 days of exposure). You can learn more about our protocols here. The science behind this CDC-recommended change is that the viral load is greatest in the early days of infection and rapidly subsides as individuals become symptom-free. As a reminder, DESE guidelines state that vaccinated individuals are exempt from close contact quarantine and testing protocols. 

It remains critical that each of us does what we can to minimize this current wave -- that includes wearing well-fitting masks, getting vaccinated and/or boosted, avoiding indoor gatherings with large crowds, and staying home if experiencing any cold-like symptoms. As always, please contact your school nurse with any questions or concerns. 

Take care.

Scott Carpenter, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Monomoy Regional School District