Sandwich Provides Updated COVID Announcement

SANDWICH – Sandwich Health Director David Mason and Sandwich School Superintendent Dr. Pamela Gould recently delivered a PSA to update the town on COVID-19 protocols in Sandwich schools.

They also addressed frustrations among members of the public related to students being sent home because of COVID protocols.

Regarding mandatory absences, Gould explained that during the previous school year, the addition of extra staff through stimulus funds allowed Sandwich schools to institute controls keeping children six feet apart in classrooms and school lunchrooms.

With remote learning no longer an option in the 2021-2022 school year, the return of students en masse to in-class settings and the prevalence of the Delta variant have combined to create an environment of increased transmission.

“This mostly happens in the lunchroom because you take off your mask,” said Gould. “When the student or staff is unmasked in an area that is less than six feet and you are deemed a close contact we now have to quarantine.”

“We’re settling into it now;” she said, “but that is the reality that we are dealing with.”

The protocols, according to Gould, have remained consistent.

“I want people to understand that those determinations, from the beginning into this period of time now isn’t being made in some backroom at the schools,” said Mason.

“I get the frustration, but where the frustration is being directed isn’t useful.”

A recent guidance from the Department of Education has mandated mask wearing until October 1, with a barometer of 80% vaccinated afterward to consider its removal.

Gould announced that she has offered a proposal to the Executive Director of the Mass Association of School Superintendents to try to lower that number to about 70% and to create benchmarks based on positive case percentages within communities for lowering mask mandates.

Gould also announced that beginning on Monday September 20th, the state, in partnership with CIC Health, will provide free COVID-19 testing for students in schools.

The programs, which require an opt in from parents and guardians, include testing for symptomatic students administered by school nurses.

It will also include “test and stay” programs in which students who are identified as close contacts will receive a COVID test every morning for a week, allowing students who receive negative tests to stay at school.

Gould announced that a link to opt into the program has been sent out to parents and guardians with students in Sandwich schools.

Mason expressed frustration with current Covid trends in Sandwich, which could negatively impact local schools.

“It really comes down to testing, masking and vaccinations,” he said. “As far as where we are at as a community, the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can move on and make it a better school year.”

“We want the kids in,” said Gould on moving forward. “We’re playing sports, we’re doing all of our clubs and activities, we’re doing everything normal. That is awesome. But I don’t want kids missing time intermittently.”

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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