Published November 11, 2020

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — In the wake of the state overhauling its COVID-19 color-coded map, Lynnfield went from a “red” to a “yellow” community on Friday, Nov. 6.

Under the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s revised COVID-19 Community Level Data Map, a municipality will be given the “gray” classification if a community with a population between 10,000 and 50,000 residents has between less than or equal to 10 total cases. A community is designated as “green” if there are less than 10 average cases per a 100,000 population and/or has greater than 10 total cases.

The state will award a community with a “yellow” classification if a municipality that has a population between 10,000 and 50,000 has greater than or equal to 10 average cases per a 100,000 population or greater than or equal to a 5 percent coronavirus positivity rate. A community will be given a “red” designation if there are greater than or equal to 10 average cases per a 100,000 population and a greater than or equal to a 5 percent positivity rate.

According to the Emergency Management Team, there were 23 active cases of the novel coronavirus as of Saturday, Nov. 7. There have been 193 total cases since the start of the pandemic and 156 people have recovered from the virus. Fourteen residents have died from COVID-19.

Under the Department of Public Health’s new guidelines, the number of “red” communities dropped from 121 to 16. The number of “yellow” communities increased from 77 to 91.

Gov. Charlie Baker signed new executive orders on Nov. 2 requiring residents of the commonwealth to wear a mask both indoors and outdoors in public regardless of whether social distancing is practiced. He also issued a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. stay-at-home advisory, which does not apply to people who have to go to work or have to undertake essential activities.

Baker also reduced the state’s indoor gathering limit to 10 people after it was previously 25. The outdoor gathering limit was lowered from 50 people to 25.

“The simple truth is this: Too many of us have become complacent in our daily lives,” said Baker. “I know it’s hard for people to hear me say this time and time again, but it’s true. We’re doing much better than many other states and many other countries, but here too we’ve let down our guard and we have work to do.”

Four days after Baker issued the new executive orders, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education unveiled new guidelines instructing communities below the “red” classification to fully resume in-person schooling. Baker and state education officials are urging high-risk communities to opt for hybrid models rather than fully virtual options. The state is now urging schools to only reverse course from prioritizing partial or fully in-person learning if there is suspected in-school transmission or a major outbreak in the community.

School Committee Chairman Jamie Hayman noted in a Facebook post that community members and educators have “a lot of questions about the state’s revised COVID metrics and map, and how they impact the Lynnfield Public Schools.” The school board discussed the revised guidelines on Tuesday, Nov. 10, taking place after the Villager went to press.

“As we have done throughout this crisis, we will be getting guidance and input from our local experts and stakeholders, including the Emergency Management Team, DPW, faculty, staff and school administrators as to what ‘logistically feasible’ options are safe, possible and available given the new guidance, the needs of our families and educators, and Lynnfield’s classroom and facility capacity as they relate to the state guidance,” Hayman stated.

Hayman informed the Villager that DESE is “pushing communities who are ‘yellow’ or below to get kids back into school full-time as long as it is ‘logistically feasible.’”

“The logistic feasibility is the big question there,” said Hayman. “When we think about logistical feasibility, there are things that are in the schools’ control such as having an agreement with the teachers so they feel safe. We have to have a plan for students who can’t go into school because they are medically compromised. Those are some of the things that we can control. The things we need more clarification on are some of the regulations such as the state changing the lunch requirements and the transportation rules. Those are things that are out of our control. And there are things that the community controls such as cases.”

Hayman said the School Committee’s goal “still remains to get the kids back to in-person learning as much as we possibly can.”

“But we have to solve all of these issues,” said Hayman. “It’s not like we can just flip a switch.”

 The State House News Service contributed to this report.