Cape Cod Reopening Task Force Updates on Testing, Schools Reopening

Taskforce Member and Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment Director, Sean O’Brien

HYANNIS – The Cape Cod Reopening Task Force is looking ahead to how schools will reopen.

Cape and Islands Senator and member of the taskforce Julian Cyr said that there will be some variation across districts on school reopening plans and guidelines once the school year begins.

Briefings will be provided for school officials on data related to the region’s COVID-19 cases, as well as briefings on testing protocols for if cases emerge in students.

The testing resources for schools will be similar to the pop-up testing that has been conducted recently in Harwich and Chatham.

“The task force will be meeting with superintendents, with representatives of labor, and others in the school community just to keep our pulse on school reopening and see how we can play a constructive role in assisting reopening schools. How they reopen is going to be tremendously challenging, whether that be remote, in-person, or sort of a mixed model,” said Cyr.

Vaira Harik with the Barnstable Department of Human Resources and lead of the task force’s subcommittee on childcare stressed the importance of childcare services as schools are reopened, as schools may be forced to close again if outbreaks of the virus occur while working parents still need some kind of support for their kids.

Cyr said officials will be discussing more about school reopenings in the coming week.

Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment Director Sean O’Brien said that recent pop-up testing in towns across Cape Cod have gone well.

O’Brien said that when a town is concerned about cases, such as due to large events like the July 12 house party in Chatham, the department will work with health agents in that community to set up a pop-up testing clinic.

Recently, 155 restaurant and hospitality workers were tested in Harwich and 34 individuals were tested in Chatham by pop-up clinics. 

33 of the 34 individuals tested at the recent Chatham pop-up clinic tested negative for COVID-19, according to O’Brien. 

Data from the Harwich pop-up clinic is expected by the end of the weekend. 

The testing teams comprise of the county Health and Environment Department and town officials as well as the Hyannis Fire Department in coordination with local EMS.

O’Brien said that the Hyannis Fire Department and Cape Cod Healthcare have been instrumental in the effective pop-up testing.

According to O’Brien, working with the mid-Cape restaurant community and town health agents to set up testing was an effective and efficient process.

Due to changes in testing laboratories, turnaround time on the tests is now expected to be just two to three days.

“We’ve been able to put together a really good rapid response team. We can look at the problem and make the determination when the best time to test is,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien said that the team wants to ensure that they test individuals after the disease has manifested to get a reliable result.

“When that health department needs the help, we’re able to mobilize and work the best we can,” said O’Brien.

 

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.



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