Published in the November 16, 2020 edition.

WAKEFIELD — Because of a recent jump in the number of positive COVID-19 cases among students, administrators have decided that Wakefield Memorial High will go to the all-remote learning model until after the Thanksgiving break.

In an emailed message sent out early last night, Supt. of School Doug Lyons said the move to temporarily learning from home for every student began today.

Here is his message: 

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am writing to inform you that there are 10 new COVID cases in the Wakefield Public Schools since our last correspondence on Saturday. This includes six new student cases at Wakefield Memorial High School (WMHS), two new cases at Galvin Middle School, one additional case at Walton, and one at the Woodville Elementary School. When combined with the four new cases announced on Friday and Saturday, a total of 14 cases have occurred this weekend. This increase appears to be attributed to small group gatherings and to family transmission.

Due to the dramatic increase within the high school population, Wakefield Memorial High School will temporarily adopt a remote model from November 16 to 25. Because school is scaling back, all athletic practices and contests will be canceled until further notice. High School families should keep an eye out for a message from Principal Amy McLeod with more information regarding schedules. The Doyle Early Learning Center, the Dolbeare, Greenwood, Walton, and Woodville Elementary Schools and Galvin Middle School will remain in their current Phase III schedules at this time.

We have worked with the principals, the school nurses, and the Wakefield Board of Health to complete contact tracing and to inform those who were a close contact or at risk of exposure. As we have shared, the best opportunity to keep schools open is predicated on our ability to effectively contact trace. The two challenges in contact tracing effectively are (1) not having correct contact information and (2) a rapid increase in positive cases in one location where local Boards of Health and nurses need time to work through new cases.

Our student body, staff, and the community have been fantastic and will need to continue to adhere to the safety protocols including mask-wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing, even when not in the school setting. We will continue to ask parents to keep students home at the first sign of symptoms. These safety measures, taken in combination, greatly reduce the risk of additional transmission and keep people safe. If you have any questions, we encourage you to contact your primary care physician or our school nurses for guidance.

These new cases, when added to the Wakefield COVID data dashboard numbers, bring our total active and recovered cases to 24 students and 3 staff members. These new cases have been reported to the Wakefield Board of Health and will be reported to the Mass Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

As I am sure you know, we cannot provide specific information about members of our school community who tested positive. These positive cases did result in students and staff being identified as close contacts and they have all been notified. A close contact is defined by the CDC as being within 6 feet of the person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period. Per the Board of Health, all close contacts should be tested and must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of the test result. We are also following all Department of Public Health protocols, including collaborating with our local Board of Health to complete contact tracing.

To further prevent transmission of the virus to other staff and students, we will continue to sanitize the school. We will continue to be vigilant in adhering to all of the protocols that have been put in place in an effort to continue teaching and learning. Our students in quarantine will be provided with guidance and support from their current teachers and counselors regarding remote learning expectations. Teachers will continue to provide instruction, structure, and an emotional connection to the classroom during a time that we know will be challenging for those students and families involved.

For more information on COVID-19 symptoms and testing, visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/about-covid-19-testing#where-can-get-a-test?-.

You can also find a map of testing sites at https://memamaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=eba3f0395451430b9f631cb095febf13. Please contact us immediately should you or someone in your home begin to show symptoms.

We are committed to timely communication to support all of our families. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact me, Doug Lyons at [email protected] or Kara Mauro at [email protected]

If there is additional transmission as a result of these cases or another separate case, we will send out another message immediately.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Douglas Lyons

Superintendent of Schools