Westborough Board of Health seeks community feedback ahead of Dec. 6 meeting

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A car passes in front of Westborough Town Hall earlier this week. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – The Westborough Board of Health is seeking community feedback ahead of a planned discussion on Dec. 6 that will address both masking and a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

The Board of Health would like to encourage residents of Westborough to write any thoughts and or concerns you may have on any agenda item prior to our scheduled virtual BOH meeting,” noted a statement posted on the town of Westborough’s website, Dec. 3.

The meeting will take place virtually at 5:30 p.m. Those interested in attending can do so through a Zoom link included in the Board of Health’s agenda. 

“The BOH can assure you, your voices will be heard,” that Dec. 3 statement added. “All communication will be reviewed.”

Individuals interested in sending comments to the Board of Health can do so by emailing [email protected]

Board of Health reschedules emergency meeting

Westborough saw 78 new COVID-19 cases in the week preceding Dec. 3, the Board of Health announced in an update on Dec. 3.

That was an increase compared to the 57 cases seen in the previous week. There were 34 cases in the week before that, the Board of Health noted. 

The Board of Health initially scheduled an emergency meeting to take place on Dec. 2. The meeting was then canceled, though, with its new date scheduled for Dec. 6.

An emergency meeting may be called under the Open Meeting Law and requires providing the public as much notice as possible,” Town Manager Kristi Williams noted in an email to the Community Advocate on Dec. 3. “The Board of Health did post an emergency meeting, but subsequently received advice from Town Counsel recommending that this meeting be posted in accordance with the usual 48 hour notice provisions of the Open Meeting Law to allow for additional notice to the public.” 

“The meeting was then canceled,” Williams wrote, “and a meeting was posted for Monday.”  

Town enacts mask mandate, School Committee approves flexible masking

The canceled emergency meeting and now planned Dec. 6 Board of Health meeting come after Westborough announced a new mask mandate for municipal buildings on Nov. 30. That took effect the following day and will remain in effect until Jan. 10, according to Williams. 

The School Committee voted on the evening of Dec. 1 to adopt a new flexible masking policy at Westborough High School and Gibbons Middle School, effective on Dec. 6. That vote came after the state granted a waiver to both WHS and Gibbons earlier this year, allowing Westborough to implement flexible masking at those schools because their vaccination rates are over 80 percent. 

The Dec. 6 implementation date did differ from the recommendation of Superintendent Amber Bock, who had suggested that the policy take effect on Jan. 10. 

Bock also acknowledged, Dec. 1, that the Board of Health had raised concerns about a transition to flexible masking in schools.

School Committee member Lisa Edinberg addressed the town’s mask mandate as she and other committee members voted, 5-0, to adopt the flexible masking policy. 

“Town staff work directly with the public in their offices, in the field and in homes and businesses,” she said. “The schools are a much more closed environment with consistent contacts. The data for Gibbons and the High School illustrate this well.”