Published in the November 23, 2020 edition.

WAKEFIELD — With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio and Supt. of Schools Doug Lyons sent out this holiday message at the end of last week: 

As we reflect this Thanksgiving, we would like to take a moment to express our gratitude to the residents, students, employees, volunteers and businesses in the Town of Wakefield. The last nine months have been unlike any other we have experienced, and your resilience and support have not gone unnoticed. In a year that has been so challenging, there are still many things to appreciate.

We are grateful our students and teachers have had the opportunity to make connections in the classroom. We are grateful so many of our local businesses have developed new ways to service their customers and persevere. We are grateful the community continues to support the Wakefield Food Pantry and other local nonprofits. We are grateful our first responders and municipal staff have been able to operate without pause. We are grateful for the health and wellbeing of our community.

But COVID case numbers continue to rise. Almost 50 Wakefield residents have lost their lives to the disease. Their families are in our thoughts, as are the almost 500 residents who overcame their illnesses. While some may have been asymptomatic, others battled serious setbacks. We are thankful for their recoveries.

Though we are weary, we must continue to adhere to best practices; we cannot become complacent. We want to keep students in their classrooms and we want to keep our businesses open. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, consider making adjustments to your typical routine:

• Host a small dinner with only members of your household;

• Gather with extended family virtually via video chat;

• Start a new tradition by watching a favorite movie or playing board games with members of your household.

If you plan to participate in a celebration with members outside of your household, please follow public health guidance:

• Wear your mask and watch your distance, both indoors and outdoors;

• Keep the number of attendees to 10 or less;

• Do not share food, drinks or utensils;

• Wave and verbally greet others instead of hugging and shaking hands;

• Improve ventilation by opening windows and doors;

• Keep visits short; gatherings that last longer pose more risk than short gatherings;

• Be especially cautious near people at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults and people with certain medical conditions

.And if you must travel, please read and understand the Massachusetts travel orders before you make your trip. All visitors and Massachusetts residents returning home must fill out a Massachusetts Travel Form and quarantine for 14 days unless: they are coming from a COVID-19 lower-risk state; they can produce a negative COVID-19 test result administered no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts; or they are included in one of the other, limited exemptions.

Let’s all do our part to keep Wakefield healthy: wash our hands, wear a mask, and watch our distance. Thanks again for you’re the support you’ve shown thus far. We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Stephen P. Maio, Town Administrator and Douglas Lyons, Superintendent of Schools