Dear Shrewsbury Families and Colleagues,
There has been much discussion in the media recently regarding how different the celebration of Thanksgiving will be this year. We are all aware and concerned about the rising levels of COVID-19 in the Shrewsbury community, across Massachusetts, and across the country, and are hearing recommendations to limit the size of holiday gatherings and to avoid travel from Governor Baker, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Making adjustments to long-standing traditions of large holiday gatherings with family and friends is difficult, but it is necessary if we are to once again “flatten the curve” of the virus. Public health experts’ recommendations for Thanksgiving celebrations include having a small gathering with only the people in your household while including extended family and friends virtually; wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance of six feet when with people outside of your immediate household; not sharing food or drinks; and celebrating outdoors if possible, or spread across multiple rooms in well-ventilated indoor areas. This and other information is included in this “Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving” graphic from the MDPH. For more information on celebrating safely from MDPH on a translatable web page, click here.
Per the CDC, “postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.” With this in mind, we would like to remind families and colleagues that the protocols that we have in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools include the need to comply with the Massachusetts Travel Order. The travel order requires that anyone who travels anywhere other than those states designated as “lower risk” quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test that was administered up to 72 hours prior to return to Massachusetts. This order applies to both students and staff and, while the recommendation is that holiday travel is kept to a minimum, we respectfully request that people who do travel consider the safety of others in our community when they return by following the travel order and staying home until a negative test result is received. The map changes often, and as of today, only Vermont and Hawaii are considered “lower risk” states (New Hampshire and Maine were recently removed) – so, as of now, unless you are traveling to the Green Mountain State or having a Thanksgiving luau in Hawaii, any travel outside of Massachusetts requires compliance with the travel order’s rules for quarantining or a negative test. Please check the map before and after any travel and contact your school nurse with any questions.
We have also had inquiries as to the school district’s schedule the week after Thanksgiving, as some other school districts or schools are holding remote-only classes for some time after the break. We have consulted with infectious disease physicians on this issue, and because neither families nor staff would be isolating after the holiday, and because of the efficacy of the mitigation strategies already in place, these experts are not advising that we change our approach. Therefore, we will follow the regular hybrid schedule when school resumes on Monday, November 30.
We are truly grateful for everything that Shrewsbury Public Schools families and colleagues have done to partner in creating an environment that has allowed for a successful return to school, and we wish you all a healthy, happy Thanksgiving.
Joe Sawyer Noelle Freeman
Superintendent of Schools Director of School Nursing