Westborough School Committee discusses COVID-19 protocols

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By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer 

Westborough – Westborough School Committee member Lisa Edinberg expressed concern during the committee’s Dec. 16 meeting that students who are quarantined are not getting the emotional and social support they need. She also said she was worried about how those students receive academic work and how they will be able to catch up.

According to the COVID-19 data on the school department website, for the week of Dec. 7-11, there were five students with positive test results (including three full remote learners); two staff members testing positive; 24 close school contacts identified; seven students/staff in isolation and 58 students/staff in quarantine.

Superintendent Amber Bock said that the structure the department is using has been working well and the goal is to maintain a safe environment for everyone. She emphasized that the protocols of staying home while waiting for results serves to stop the spread of illness in the schools.

She said she knows quarantining (for various scenarios) is inconvenient, but the alternative is the virus being widely transmitted at the school level.

The Centers for Disease Control is reducing the quarantine guidelines from 14 to 10 days which may lessen the burden, she said.

Edinberg said that when a student is “a close contact,” of someone else and has to quarantine, an issue is that child’s mental health. She also doesn’t want to see their academic progress suffer.

Bock said that the staff takes it seriously and ensures the students get the work they need to make up, likening it to a situation when kids are out sick with another illness or a broken limb.

Edinberg said that a student who sat behind someone with COVID-19 in class and then has to quarantine as a result of that is a more “uncomfortable” position to experience. “It seems like a greater grief affecting kids,” than just staying home with a cold, for example, she said.

“We’ll continue to work with department heads to adjust the model and make improvements but we also have to stay open,” Bock replied. “We’re between a rock and a hard place. The way we stay open is by not putting people at risk.”

Bock added that the safety committee meets regularly to review safety measures and increasing outreach by counselors could be discussed.