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Superintendent's Update - February 11, 2022

Superintendent's Update - February 11, 2022

Dear Monomoy families and staff,

As we wrap up the second week of February, I’m pleased to report that the number of COVID cases in our schools are down dramatically. It appears that the Omicron wave is fading quickly. We've moved from having over 100 new COVID cases a week in the first weeks of January (students and staff combined) to 15 cases in the past week. I am hopeful cases will continue to decline, barring past trends of upticks following school vacation weeks or another variant emerging.

Gov. Baker and DESE announced earlier this week that the statewide mask mandate for schools will expire on Feb. 28, 2022. This leaves the decision up to local districts. Presently, our School Committee has a mask policy that would need to be rescinded before masks are optional in Monomoy schools. Even if Monomoy’s mask policy is rescinded, individuals will always have the option to wear a mask if they wish, or be required to mask in these specific situations:

  • When returning to school after a COVID infection (after Day 5), to protect others, masks must be worn through Day 10 (following CDC guidelines)
  • When visiting our nurse’s offices
  • When riding a school bus (until the federal public transportation requirement is lifted)

Personally, I agree with the Governor that we are reaching a place in the coming weeks to safely shift to masks being optional in schools. I do have one reservation with the Governor’s decision, in that history finds schools having spikes in COVID (and other illnesses) immediately following vacation weeks. To ensure we aren’t overwhelmed with absences (both staff and students), it would be advisable to see what direction COVID is heading following the February vacation. I am very optimistic that whatever possible uptick following the February break will be short-lived and that we can be mask-optional in the near future.

The School Committee will be revisiting the mask (face covering) policy at its meeting February 17. I am sharing any emails sent to me on this topic with the School Committee. Individuals are also welcome to email School Committee members directly. Alternatively, you can provide feedback to the School Committee here.

Regardless of when face masks become optional, we will continue to provide students and staff with a layer of protection through weekly COVID testing. We will continue pooled testing on the first school day of every week. In addition, DESE recently announced a new testing program, which will provide at-home rapid tests for families to test students once per week. Monomoy will be joining this program starting March 7. When we shift to twice weekly testing (between Monday pool tests and an at-home test on Thursday), we will cease our Test and Stay program and in-school contact tracings, allowing our nursing team to focus time and resources on individuals coming to the health office with cold/COVID symptoms. We will send out additional details and the opt-in sign-up for these programs on Monday. Please note that even if your student is already participating in pooled testing, you will need to opt in again to pooled testing and/or at-home testing. While families may elect to participate in only the at-home testing program, we strongly recommend participating in both. If all students and staff were to be part of two COVID safety checks each week, we’d be able to protect each other while sustaining a safe, mask-free learning environment.

Remember to keep an eye on your email on Monday for the link to enroll in our new testing programs.

Take care.

Scott Carpenter, Ed.D.

Superintendent

Monomoy Regional School District