I hope this finds you all safe, healthy and enjoying the holiday break! I am writing with some important information and to update you on what is happening at the state level regarding Covid-19, and the resulting plans for returning to school next week.
The Commissioner held a call yesterday and shared the following information:
- Things have escalated more quickly than expected, and Massachusetts is seeing an uptick in Omicron variant.
- School closures are unlikely. There is new hope around the approved Pfizer pill given to Covid-19 positive persons after symptoms, but obviously there will be limited supply.
- We need to be ready for after break, as both the President and Governor have been clear that they want schools open.
We will also post this document to the District website. Updated Covid-19 Guidance 12.30.21
- Boosters are important. There is a need to get the word out to encourage those eligible to get vaccinations and boosters as unvaccinated people may struggle at a greater rate with Omicron.
. The updated Protocols document includes new language on isolation and the duration of a quarantine based on the scenario, as well additional flexibility in the use of antigen tests for symptomatic individuals. I have attached the link to the PDF version that highlights the revisions made for ease of use. Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance/On the Desktop Messages (mass.edu) (Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios - SY 2021-22- DESE and DPH have updated the joint guidance on
- The state has been able to secure rapid antigen tests with the goal of giving faculty and staff members tests to administer before they return from the break. They are currently working on what can be done to obtain more tests, and the possibility of expanding the testing to students. Currently there is a nationwide shortage, but Massachusetts was able to secure 200,000 antigen tests for all schools. We are required to pick them up at the state assigned location, which is in Pittsfield for SBRSD.
In response to all this information, and to ensure that all faculty and staff have an opportunity to pick up a test kit, self-administer the test, and report any positive results to the District; as well as, to provide the Administration enough time to manage any staffing issues that may arise – I am extending the holiday break by one day and closing the District on Monday, January 3, 2022 with the new return to school date of Tuesday, January 4, 2022. The extra day will be made up and added on to the end of the school year, and the calendar will be revised to reflect the change.
The Administrative Team will be at Central Office on Monday, January 3rd from 8:00 am to 11:00 am to hand out the test kits to faculty and staff, and to ensure the campuses are prepared for the safe return of all on Tuesday. All facilities will remain closed during the pick-up period, and while faculty and staff self-administer their tests.
I continue to update the chart on the website as notifications come in. I wanted to send a notice to all families to share the information we have to date as I think it is important to get this to you as soon as possible for planning purposes. Thank you for your patience, understanding and support as we continue to navigate these challenging times with the goal of ensuring a safe learning environment for all.
As always, please reach out to me or any member of the Administrative staff with any questions or concerns. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!
Dr. Beth Regulbuto, Superintendent of Schools