MELROSE —It took two days for the coronavirus to again rear its ugly head in the city’s school system.
Just a couple of months after completing an academic year marred by restarts and COVID-caused restrictions, at least two classes had to go into quarantine on Thursday, Sept. 2 in the wake of multiple positive virus cases. The 2021-22 school year started on Sept. 1.
In an email to WCVB Channel 5, Supt. of Schools Dr. Julie Kukenberger said some additional individuals are also quarantining and that all close contacts of the positive cases will quarantine for seven days from their last exposure, which was Thursday, Sept. 2.
As long as they remain asymptomatic, those students deemed close contacts could return to in-person learning as soon as Friday, Sept. 10, according to Kukenberger.
The superintendent said all impacted students, staff, families and school communities have been informed of the positive cases and will not share the names of specific schools or classrooms for confidentiality purposes.
“The health and well-being of our students and staff is our number one priority. We are committed to doing all that we can to mitigate risk,” Kukenberger said.
Melrose Public Schools has implemented a multi-pronged risk mitigation strategy and additional details regarding protocols are included in the district’s back-to-school plan.
Kukenberger says the district will continue to follow guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as well as collaborate with the Melrose Health Department to “navigate these challenging times.”
On Aug. 25, DESE formally issued a statewide mask mandate for all public K-12 students and staff.
The mask mandate, which runs through Oct. 1, only applies indoors and to children 5 and older, and there are exceptions for students and staff who cannot wear a mask due to medical conditions or behavioral needs. All visitors are also expected to wear a mask in school buildings.
The indoor mask requirement, however, does not apply when students and staff are eating, drinking or taking mask breaks.
After Oct. 1, middle and high schools would be allowed to lift the mask mandate for vaccinated students and staff only if the school meets a certain vaccination rate – at least 80% of students and staff in a school building are vaccinated. Unvaccinated students and staff would still be required to wear masks.
In addition, DESE is requiring student-athletes and coaches who participate in any indoor sports-related activity to wear masks, which is in alignment with guidance provided by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.