WEYMOUTH — Superintendent Jennifer Curtis-Whipple would like to share important in-person learning information with the Weymouth Public School community.
There are currently no positive COVID-19 cases from students among those who have been engaging in in-person learning. As a result, the district will proceed with its return-to-school plan as voted on by the Weymouth School Committee earlier this year.
As part of the plan, students in grade 3-5 cohorts and grade 6-7 cohorts will return to school starting on Wednesday, Nov. 4, under a hybrid learning model. Weymouth High School cohorts will return on Tuesday, Nov. 17, under a hybrid learning model.
Students in pre-K to grade 2 have been learning under a hybrid learning model since Tuesday, Oct. 13. Their schedule does not change.
The return to school plan follows the latest health and safety guidelines from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. During his press conference today, Nov. 2, Gov. Charlie Baker confirmed that in-person learning is not suspected to be a contributor to COVID-19 spreading in Massachusetts.
The School Committee will meet on Nov. 5 to consider the most recent data and positive cases in town, and will discuss any necessary changes to the district’s current plan.
What Does a “Red” Designation Mean for Weymouth Public Schools?
Each week the Massachusetts Department of Public Health releases a report on COVID-19 incidence rates in each city and town in the Commonwealth. Any community that reports a rate of 8 or higher of average daily incidences per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period is designated as a Red “High-Risk” community, which the Town of Weymouth has been classified as for the past several weeks. This does not necessarily mean, however, that schools should change their model of learning.
The School Department constantly monitors the situation of positive cases with the community. When a staff or student is found to be COVID-positive, district leaders update DESE’s COVID Reporting Unit. Next steps include implementing existing DESE protocols to notify close contacts for testing and isolation, conferring with local public health and/or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to determine if transmission is occurring in the class or school, and/or seeking advice on whether to suspend in-person learning for the affected class, grade or school.
There is no one threshold or metric that indicates a school or district should suspend in-person learning. It is important to note that these decisions need to be made based on local context, occur in collaboration with DESE and the local board of health, and may be based on the following factors:
- If there is a need for an extensive cleaning of classrooms, sections of buildings or other facility mitigation;
- If the state mobile testing unit results, or other test results, suggest widespread transmission is occurring (mobile testing unit is deployed through DESE in response to reporting criteria);
- If there are widespread absences among students and staff due to illness or status of being a contact of a positive case;
- If the school is in a district reported as “red” on the DPH health metric for the past three weeks, and risk of transmission to students and/or staff is increased;
- More than 1.5% positive test of total students enrolled in each school building;
- More than 5% positive test rate in the community of Weymouth;
- Other situations deemed by the public health department.
“We are confident that proceeding with our return-to-school plan is in the best interest of our school community and is in accordance with the latest health and safety guidelines from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,” Superintendent Curtis-Whipple said. “The School Department is in contact with local and state health officials on a daily basis to discuss how to best proceed with our models of instruction across all grade levels, and we will continue to keep the members of our school community updated as much as possible moving forward.”
For more information, visit the Weymouth Public Schools’ COVID-19 dashboard, which can be found online here. The dashboard, which features the most accurate COVID-19 data related to the district, will be updated by 6 p.m. each Thursday.