Hudson schools roll out new COVID-19 policies

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Five students test positive at Mulready Elementary

By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

Hudson’s Mulready Elementary School sits off Cox St. in town. The School Committee recently heard a presentation on COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-2022 school year. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON – The Hudson Public Schools will implement a ten-day quarantine for any student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 as part of new pandemic policies announced at a Sept. 7 School Committee meeting. 

The same meeting saw school officials address news that five students at Mulready Elementary School had tested positive for COVID-19 over the previous weekend.

Superintendent Marco Rodrigues encouraged all parents and staff to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms each day before school.

“Self-screening in the morning is one of the most powerful interventions, because it can prevent a whole chain,” Rodrigues said. 

Symptoms to check include fever, coughing, chills, sore throat, shortness of breath, body or muscle aches, or a loss of taste or smell. 

The same expectation applies to staff, who Rodrigues urged to stay home if they notice these symptoms develop: “If you’re not feeling well, speak to the nurse. Allow us to help you and to maintain our school’s health.”

Students with COVID-19, close contacts to stay at home for ten days

Students and staff who test positive, or who have been in close contact with someone who has, will be kept at home for ten days. Students can return to school on the eleventh day if their symptoms improve and they have been off medication for 24 hours.

Individuals are considered to have been in “close contact” with an active case if they sat within three feet while masked or within six feet while eating. Seating on buses does not apply, since all riders should be masked and since all windows should be down, according to state rules. 

Contact tracing will be paid for by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at no additional cost to Hudson taxpayers, according to the School Committee’s Sept. 7 meeting.  

Starting this year, students will not have the same options to take classes remotely as they did last year. Students who quarantine will continue to receive coursework, but the specifics of take-home work are still under development. 

“We are working on an alternative to not having the remote learning,” Rodrigues said on Sept. 7. 

He promised “An enhanced approach to helping students who are home and who cannot do remote learning as we did in the past,” but did not provide additional details. 

‘This is a health crisis’

Rodrigues also urged all members of the school community to get vaccinated if eligible. 

“For anyone who’s twelve years and up, you need to get vaccinated,” Rodrigues said. “This is a health crisis. Millions have died. The right thing to do is to protect yourself and protect others.”

While there has been some discussion among state officials about rolling back mask requirements in October for districts with a certain level of vaccinations, Rodrigues said that Hudson’s case and vaccination rates would determine when masks become optional indoors. 

“When our numbers are manageable enough that we can have everyone safe in our schools, then we can talk about relaxing a little bit about who can wear a mask,” Rodrigues said. “Don’t expect any change unless the numbers in Hudson change.”

The district hopes to collect data on the overall proportion of staff who are vaccinated. Discussions are ongoing with the teacher’s union.  

Board member Christopher Yates urged any parent with questions or concerns to reach out to the district’s nurses.

“Last year I had to deal with the High School nurses and they couldn’t have been more thorough,” Yates told the School Committee. 

Discussion follows news of COVID-19 cases at Mulready School

The Sept. 7 School Committee meeting took place hours after Rodrigues announced in a letter to families that five students had tested positive for COVID-19 at Mulready Elementary School. Rodrigues then addressed the matter during the School Committee meeting.

Nine students were quarantining at home as of Sept. 7 after being identified as close contacts. That number was expected to rise as contact tracing and testing follow-up processes continued, Rodrigues said. 

Cases were isolated and did not appear to be instances of in-school transmission, Rodrigues added.