Dear Parents and Guardians
As you may have heard, the CDC, MADPH and DESE have all supported updates to isolation and quarantine guidance. So far, DESE has only updated the isolation guidance for schools and I share it with you here.
Updates to isolation guidance.
Isolation guidance only applies to those infected with COVID and the time they must be in isolation while contending with the infection.
The Department of Public Health (DPH) has updated the state-wide guidance which includes a reduction of the required isolation period for COVID-19 positive individuals in K-12 schools to 5 days (from 10 days in current guidance), effective immediately. PLEASE NOTE: in order to be eligible for day 5 exit, the patient must be asymptomatic and fever free for 24 hrs without the use of medication. If you are contending with this in your home, it means that you were previously told ten days and now can use 5 days as the time for which isolation ends. However, those individuals who come out of isolation on day 5 must remain masked for the remaining 5 days (and this is suggested even in the home).
Updates to quarantine guidance will supposedly come from DESE within the week.
Quarantine guidance is for those individuals who are considered close contacts--individuals exposed to COVID positive people who must monitor for illness after the exposure.
I also wanted to remind you of the safety measures in place in the Natick Schools and the measures we have taken to ensure we have adequate staffing for school next week.
- Take home test kits and KN-95 masks are being supplied to all school employees and being distributed on Saturday.
- All returning students will continue to wear masks indoors.
- HVAC, ventilation systems, air purification units are in every classroom for maximum air flow and infection reduction
- All schools have been sanitized during break and will continue to be sanitized nightly using our electrostatic cleaning tools
- Test and stay and pool testing for those currently enrolled in it (PK-6th grade) will continue, starting Monday (as long as testing staff arrive to work). as The mandatory testing for any unvaccinated staff and students grades 7-12 who are participating in extracurricular activities will resume its normal schedule.
- Nurses have begun the process of reaching out to families in grades K-6 who are unvaccinated to continue to enroll in testing.
- Vaccination rates in Natick are high--thank you for doing your part to keep the community safe
- Vax rates for students in grades 9-12 are over 90%
- for Grade 8: 87%
- for Grade 7: 81%
- for Grade 6: 57%
- or Grade 5: 65%
K-4 Students: We served over 2000 at our recent K-4 vaccine clinics and our nurses are currently working with state databases to gain grade by grade rates for these students as well. We have roughly 2000 MS students, 1500 NHS students and 2000 elementary students in district. MA state sites indicate 61% of our students aged 5-11 were vaccinated as of 12/16/21.
I have three requests for you as we head into this next phase of COVID.
Review mask wearing expectations with students of all ages. While teens are tired of them and rebel, little ones become absent minded about mask slippage; please remind them of the importance of masking.
Send them in with masks that fit snugly over the mouth and nose. KN95s are best, but closely followed by surgical, triple ply masks. Doubling up on single or double ply masking also works.
Keep your children home if they have symptoms.
If your child is not vaccinated and is eligible, please do it. VCare Pharmacy in Framingham indicates if you call, they can assist with this. Vaccination is the single greatest protection against this virus and it will help us to end the current manner of spread.
For those with unvaccinated children, please sign up for our school testing program. It keeps students and staff safe and in school.
Sunday Night January 2/Contending with Possible School Closures
It is my sincere hope that we will be able to fully staff all of our buildings on Monday, January 3, 2022. While we appreciate the state allowing us the resources to test every staffer on Sunday to determine their safety status, it may mean that some schools cannot open. This may be the case in the coming weeks.
Like snow days, I will need to monitor "the weather" of the district relative to staff illness and be in touch via our emergency robocall feature. This Sunday, staff will take their antigen tests in early morning so we can call substitutes and make arrangements. I will know by Sunday evening if we are good to go.
Assume school is on as usual unless I call to close it--just like a snow closure. This call would come to you Sunday evening by 8pm. The state department of elementary and secondary education will allow school closures if certain staffing conditions cannot be met or if student absenteeism means we cannot count the day as a school day of attendance. Any cancellation of school, however, will mean a make-up day for instruction in June, just like a snow day. I will seek to minimize closures but ask you to understand that we will all have to be flexible in the coming weeks.
This is also a good time to remind everyone that snow and ice season is also upon us. Procedures for school closure are on our website and in below part of this newsletter, and we seek to cancel school the night before if possible so childcare and work routines can be arranged. This is not always possible. Also, for morning routines, during the first storms leave time to safely arrive at bus stops and school drop off. Students should dress warmly: coats, hats, gloves or mittens and boots to avoid a day at school in cold, wet clothes. With air purification systems and open windows in some areas, the schools are chilly and students should dress in layers.
Please know that school buildings and offices are now closed and we will respond to questions as soon as we are able. Our website contains frequently asked questions and information often requested through email.
Talk to you soon, Happy New Year
Anna P. Nolin, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools