Families have mixed views on travel restrictions, Westborough Schools superintendent says

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Photo by/Dakota Antelman
The Westborough High School campus sits largely empty just a matter of days before reopening for full-time in-person learning.

By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

WESTBOROUGH – The reopening of schools in Westborough concluded April 26, with high school students returning following spring break.

Through this process, travel has emerged as a “hot topic” according to Superintendent Amber Bock, who discussed the state coronavirus travel advisory and other issues related to in-person learning at an April 7 School Committee meeting.

After traveling out of state for more than 24 hours, the Westborough Public Schools continue to require a PCR COVID-19 test or a 10-day quarantine before students can return to school. Children younger than 10 need to follow what the adult they are traveling with is doing.

Exempt are fully vaccinated travelers who received their doses 14 days prior and don’t have virus symptoms. They can return to school without a quarantine or test.

Acknowledging that some families are upset about testing, Bock said that it is “appropriate” and for the safety of students and faculty.

In addition, she said, there can be a quick turnaround of a couple of days between the time the person arrives home, takes the COVID-19 test, engages in remote learning, and then gets negative results and can return to school.

Although some parents are upset about the testing requirement, there is also concern by people feeling worried about other families who are traveling and afterward may come in contact with their children.

“A bell curve exists for every decision we make,” Bock said.

She noted even though routines had to change to reopen schools five days per week, the transition was “seamless” thanks to thoughtful preparations.

“Good planning is invisible, the absence of errors. I feel very confident the schools are running smoothly,” she said.

On a different matter, the superintendent said that the state has “very rigid” restrictions on gatherings like proms. Administrators are working on ways to “create a heavily modified experience that feels celebratory,” as a result, she said.

More information will be forthcoming.

Finally, the Westborough School Committee voted to name Friday, June 18, as the last full day of school.

Originally, the date was the following Monday as a half day. But committee members agreed the change made more sense.

School Committee Chair Kristen Vincent pointed out that the state is requiring 170 school days this year (instead of the usual 180), so June 18 puts the district at 171 days.

Student Representative Kyla Kamugu said that last year, the sixth period on the last day of school was devoted to mental health activities like mindfulness and yoga where students could “check in with themselves.” She wondered if that practice would be repeated this year.

Teachers will have the discretion whether or not to incorporate those activities, Bock replied.