Superintendent's Update 10/8/21

Superintendent's Update 10/8/21
Posted on 10/08/2021
Blanchard Students' Identity Puzzle

Superintendent’s Update

October 8, 2021

In this update:

Mascot Screening Subcommittee Update

COVID Public Health Update

Blanchard COVID-19 Update

COVID Testing Program Update

Statewide School Mask Requirement Extended

Coffee with the Superintendent and School Committee Chair

Mascot Screening Subcommittee Update

At their meeting on September 23rd, the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee voted “to establish a mascot screening subcommittee to receive, review and recommend a mascot as proposed by the student bodies of the high school and junior high school.”  The high school and junior high school have begun to solicit interest from students to serve on the student working group.  We will send an invitation to apply to our community early next week and look forward to beginning this work soon.  Please click here to read more information about how our process is structured.

COVID Public Health Update

Massachusetts’ 7 day average of COVID-19 cases has declined from a high of 1891 on September 13, to 970 on October 5.  This marks the lowest 7-day average case count since early August.  This is a highly encouraging trend that we hope continues to improve. The 14 day average incidence rate as reported by the state is currently 9.9 for Acton (down from 10.2 two weeks ago) and 32.4 for Boxborough (up from 18.3 two weeks ago).  I believe the Boxborough case count is attributable, at least in part, to the Blanchard cases two weeks ago. 

In our schools, we have seen a total of 4 positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff in the last two weeks, and a total of 33 cases this year.  A detailed breakdown by school can be found on our COVID-19 Website.  

In the news yesterday, Pfizer has officially applied to the FDA for approval of its vaccine for children ages 5-12.  We are carefully monitoring this development and will keep our community informed of any progress.  

Blanchard COVID-19 Update

We have seen case counts normalize at Blanchard over the last three weeks and this will be our last week of reporting anything specific to this school.  While we saw an increase in cases at Blanchard between the weeks of 9/6 and 9/13, we have since seen a reduction in the number of positive cases at the school.  I want to thank all of our staff and families for their continued vigilance in following protocols.  In particular, I would like to thank our nursing staff , Principal Labb, and Assistant Superintendent Bentley for all of the work they did in managing the COVID Test and Stay program that allowed so many of our students to safely avoid quarantine.

Blanchard cases since the start of this year:

Week of 8/30

Week of 9/6

Week of 9/13

Week of 9/20

Week of 9/27

Week of 10/4

1 case

4 cases

7 cases

1 case

1 case

0 cases

(as of 10/7)

COVID Testing Program Update

We have been working through staffing challenges with our state testing vendor and have made progress toward rolling out our Routine COVID Safety Checks (pooled testing).  Blanchard has been up and running now with strong participation and we will be starting the program next week at the Merriam and McCarthy Towne Elementary Schools.  We will complete the roll-out of this program at Conant, Douglas and Gates beginning the week of October 18th.  Thank you to all of our staff and families for your patience as we get this program running.

As of today, we have run nearly 1,100 total swabs (individual and pooled tests) throughout Routine COVID Safety Checks and the Test and Stay programs.  Of the nearly 1,100 swabs we had processed, we have had two (2) positive tests returned in total this year.  We believe this data supports that our schools are safe places for our students and staff.

Statewide School Mask Requirement Extended

The Commissioner of Education has extended the state-wide mask requirement until at least November 1.  There is an exception for schools that, as of October 15, can demonstrate a greater than 80% vaccination rate among students and staff.  Both RJ Grey and ABRHS have vaccination rates well in excess of 80%, but we will continue our mask requirement in schools until we see case counts return to early-summer levels and receive advice from our medical advisory indicating support for lifting our mask requirement.

Coffee with the Superintendent and School Committee Chair

We will be resuming our “coffee” series for families to be able to meet with the Superintendent and School Committee Chair on a monthly basis.  These meetings are an opportunity to get general information about the happenings around the district and ask questions about district-wide issues.  As always, we encourage specific student questions and school-related questions to be sent directly to schools.  We hope that over the course of the year, you can join us for one or two meetings.  Our schedule this year is below.  We anticipate a mix of zoom and in-person meetings and will begin with an online format.  We will send links as we approach our first meeting.

  • Oct 20 at 8:30 am
  • Nov 17 at 7 pm
  • Dec 15 at 8:30 am
  • Jan 12 at 8:30 am
  • Feb 9 at 8:30 am
  • Mar 9 at 8:30 am
  • Apr 6 at 7 pm
  • May 4 at 7 pm
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