Published November 4, 2020


LYNNFIELD — Call it another case of coronavirus déjà vu.

The Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center designated Lynnfield as a “red” community for the second straight week and the fifth time in the past two months on Thursday, Oct. 29. The town’s average daily incident rate totaled 13.5.

As part of an effort to track COVID-19 cases around the state, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Community Level Data Map uses color codes to designate the number of COVID cases in each community at a given time. A designation of “gray” means fewer than five reported cases in a community. A “green” designation means fewer than four cases per 100,000 of population. “Yellow” means four to eight cases and “red” indicates more than eight cases based on a population of 100,000.

According to Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Glenn Davis, there were 28 active cases of COVID-19 in town as of Monday, Nov. 1. There have been 183 total cases since the start of the pandemic and 141 people have recovered from the virus. Tragically, 14 residents have died from COVID-19.

“We all need to do more to protect our families, loved ones and community,” Davis stated in a Code Red message. “You can save a life by taking action.”

Superintendent Kristen Vogel informed the Villager three individuals at Lynnfield Middle School tested positive for COVID-19 this past weekend. After contact tracing took place, Vogel said one instructional team was moved to remote learning until Nov. 12.

“This is because we had four teachers identified as close contacts who need to quarantine and we do not have the staffing or substitutes to cover those four teachers for that length of time,” said Vogel.

The number of “red” communities in the state increased from 77 on Oct. 22 to 121 on Oct. 29.

Davis reminded residents to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing. He also advised townspeople to avoid large gatherings.

“Statewide, over 50 percent of new COVID cases are traced back to social gatherings and household transmission,” Davis stated. “Gatherings in groups is the worst possible scenario for spreading the virus.”

Vogel said during the School Committee’s Oct. 27 meeting students have been wearing masks, washing hands frequently and are following social distancing guidelines in all four schools.

“It has worked really well,” said Vogel. “One of the reasons why we choose the hybrid model is it provides a buffer when one cohort is in school and one is not in school. Our parents have been amazing with letting us know when someone they know or someone in their family has tested positive.”

If the town is “red” for the third straight week on Thursday, Nov. 5, Vogel told the Villager that “it is not immediate that we would go remote if three weeks in ‘red.’”

“We will look at the full picture in terms of community spread and whether or not we are seeing an impact on the schools,” said Vogel.

If a student is tested for COVID-19, Vogel said families need to notify COVID-19 Liaison Toni Rebelo and the respective building principal immediately. She said parents need to keep sick students and any siblings home “until the result is in, submitted to the COVID liaison and have received clearance to return.”

“If a student is called in sick because of COVID-19 symptoms, any siblings that attends Lynnfield Public Schools activities must also stay home that day and until the symptomatic student has a negative COVID-19 test,” said Vogel. “Documentation of a negative COVID-19 test must be presented to the COVID liaison before the student and any siblings can come back to the school building.”

If a student is identified as a close contact to someone testing positive for the novel coronavirus, Vogel said “any siblings that attend LPS activities need to stay home until the student that has been identified as a close contact has a negative test for COVID-19.”

“Once the documentation of the test result is given to the COVID liaison, any siblings may return to their school buildings so long as the student that has been identified as a close contact is able to properly quarantine themselves from their siblings,” said Vogel.

Vogel told the School Committee “most of the cases in Lynnfield are symptomatic.”

“What we have also found is children are showing symptoms,” said Vogel. “They are not severe, but they look exactly like a cold or allergies. The protocol is that a child gets tested. We will not recommend nor will we accept the Rapid Antigen Test because it is not accurate. You need to do the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. The turnaround time for the PCR test is within 24 hours in most cases.”

Due to the town being classified as “red” for the second straight week, Davis and Town Administrator Rob Dolan announced last week that youth sports will remain on hold through at least this week. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently ordered indoor ice rinks to remain closed through at least Saturday, Nov. 7 after state health regulators linked more than 100 cases of the highly infectious coronavirus to ice hockey. A number of hockey and figure skating parents have been demanding on social media that Gov. Charlie Baker “open the rinks.”

MarketStreet Lynnfield recently announced that parents must accompany minors at the outdoor mall after 6 p.m. In a statement posted on its Facebook page, MarketStreet representatives said the mall made the decision due to a “significant increase in unaccompanied minors on the property who have failed to comply with COVID guidelines.” The announcement angered a number of customers on social media.

 The State House News Service contributed to this report.