Dear Maynard School Community,
We recognize there is a significant increase in the number of positive cases in the town and in the schools. When the state (DESE/DPH) created their covid testing options for schools, they were not expecting the number of schools that opted in, and the program was not ready for the scale of testing requested by districts. The day the state announced the option to enroll with CIC, Maynard signed up for Routine COVID Safety Checks, Symptomatic Testing, and Test and Stay, but CIC did not have the capabilities to support Routine COVID Safety Checks at that time. They were only able to support the Symptomatic Testing and Test and Stay Testing options, which started in early September. They have been increasing their staffing since the start of the year and are now able to add Routine COVID Safety Checks, otherwise known as pool testing, to the testing options we have available in Maynard.
Because of the current number of cases at the Fowler school, the initial round of Routine COVID Safety Checks is being targeted towards the classes/grades most impacted by the current cases. This plan was vetted by DESE, the local board of health, state epidemiologists, and our school nurses.
DESE establishes the guidelines for who qualifies as a close contact. They are the ones that decided that only those within 3 feet (as opposed to 6 feet) count as close contacts, they decide who gets to participate in Symptomatic and Test & Stay testing, and they decide whether a school is allowed to temporarily close due to in-school transmission and continue with remote education programming.
We have been following all DESE protocols this year and participating in the following testing protocols.
- Symptomatic Testing: (for when individuals present symptoms while at school; individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test or another approved diagnostic test.
- "Test and Stay" (close contact testing): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test or another approved diagnostic test. Tests are administered daily from the first day of exposure for at least five (5) days. (Please note, the duration of Test and Stay is seven (7) days with testing occurring on school days.
As of Monday, we added Routine COVD Pooled testing. "Routine COVID Safety Checks" is what was previously called "pooled tests".
- Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing: Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school and put into a single tube (maximum of 10 samples per tube). If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing with a second sample collection occurs at the school with BinaxNOW and/or individual PCR testing, as necessary.
If you have not signed up or are unsure if you previously signed up for Maynard Schools routine COVID safety check program, sign up here: https://www.cic-health.com/consent/ma
Routine COVID Safety Checks generally take place once a week for each consented student/staff. For example, we completed Routine COVID Safety Checks on Monday with 4th, 5th, 6th graders, so we will keep them scheduled for every Monday. The Monday following Thanksgiving break, we will do ALL of Fowler (consented 4th-8th) and keep this a regular Monday schedule. How many consents from the other schools would determine if we would test them on a different day or just send the team over after Fowler is complete. We plan to begin Routine COVID Safety Check Testing at Green Meadow Wednesday, November 17, 2021.
Additionally, we have adjusted our mitigation strategies to address the increase in positive cases. These changes are similar to last year’s mitigation strategies.
Green Meadow changes:
- Go back to rows facing one direction. Currently, many student desks are clustered but three feet apart. This may be difficult in some areas such as Art and computers. We will also need to adapt the library. Some Kindergarten classes only have tables.
- Students always have masks on, covering their nose and mouth, except outside, snack, or lunch.
- Windows will remain open, although many do not have screens. The ventilation system at GM allows for fresh air.
- To stay 3 feet away while in tier 2-3 interventions, we will need to adjust groups-this will take several days.
- Lunches- lunches are typically completed in 15 minutes, and then students go outside.
Fowler School Changes:
- Keep at least 3 feet (more, if possible) between students’ desks and have them facing the same direction
- Students always have masks on, covering their nose and mouth, except outside, snack, or lunch
- Open windows in classrooms
- Remind students in lunches to wear their masks whenever they are not eating or drinking
- grades 4-6 will also:
- Discontinue group work
- Hand out materials whenever possible rather than have materials in a central location where students could cluster
Finally, we will follow additional precautions until the Thanksgiving Break:
- Specials will push into homerooms for grades 4 and 5 until the Thanksgiving break, and these grades will have one special per day.
- Custodians will do a deep cleaning again next week.
- Students who get breakfast and are NOT in 5th grade will eat in the AUDITORIUM with Mr. Barth.
Maynard High School will continue to maintain all required mitigation strategies currently in use, such as physical distancing and mask-wearing.
We have been working with the town health agent, local Board of Health, and our nurses regarding a vaccine clinic for our students. To prepare for the clinic, please take a moment to answer this 2 question survey. As more specific information is available, we will share it.
Next week, I will provide an update on the impact of the implementation of Routine COVID Safety Checks and the newly altered mitigation strategies. Additionally, I will continue to provide updates at the School Committee Meetings and weekly to the community regarding COVID and the schools.
We are doing what we can to limit the spread of the virus and keep students and staff healthy and in school. Please help us by keeping students home when they are not feeling well.
Superintendent of Schools
Maynard Public Schools