1/5/21- Special COVID Meeting
The Lincoln School Committee held a special public meeting Tuesday night to assess the need to respond to the recent uptick in reported COVID-19 infections within Lincoln’s K-4 community and to prepare for the possible anticipated increase in COVID cases statewide this winter.
Based on data and the advice of health experts, the committee decided to continue for now our current model of small in-person and remote learning cohorts with re-commitment to the safety protocols that have worked to minimize spread of the virus in schools this fall. At the same time, the committee will pursue ways to enhance safety and reassurance in light of the increasing numbers of asymptomatic cases and the anticipated winter spread in the broader community.
We thank the more than 250 parents, educators and Lincoln residents who attended virtually. A special thanks goes to Tricia McGean, our Lincoln Town Nurse, members of the Lincoln Public Health Team, the District Health and Safety Working Group, Lincoln Educators Association, school administration, and especially to Superintendent Becky McFall. Based on the number of people who tuned into the meeting, sent statements in advance, and spoke during public comment, it is clear this is a topic of high interest for many.
Let us all recommit our families to follow strictly the guidelines for masks, hygiene, physical distance, and limiting contacts outside our immediate households. This is the best way we know to keep in-person classes possible.
The pro-active, creative learning models put into place, along with the health and safety protocols, have been working. We are proud of the creativity, flexibility and dedication that have enabled our children and staff to teach and learn in person. Teachers, staff and students are doing their part to keep the schools safe, but we realize that there is worry and concern, and that the emotional strain on many of our faculty is high.
We are grateful for the collaboration between the school administration, faculty leaders, school and town nurses. We know that as positive cases arise, the ability to identify close contacts quickly and move individual cohorts to remote learning will help prevent a spread in our schools. The December reports of 13 positive COVID tests among Lincoln’s K-4 community was startling in contrast to previous months and to the very few in Lincoln’s middle school, Lincoln Pre-school, and both Hanscom schools. Follow-up found that most of the positive cases were contracted at home, but a few infection sources are unknown.
While a preemptive period of remote learning was not put in place at this point in time, the School Committee will be updating and expanding the metrics used to determine if or when schools should switch to remote learning. The district’s Health and Safety Working Group meets regularly to review suggestions and will implement changes in the coming days. Additionally, we are looking into the possibility of testing for faculty and students. Monitoring this virus has and will continue to be an on-going effort, as conditions change, we will adapt.
Currently, the biggest challenge and worry is the number of asymptomatic individuals and the concern that without symptoms, people interact with more individuals outside of their homes and therefore, unknowingly, continue the spread. The community can help in this effort. Please follow the State guidelines and limit your exposure to individuals outside of your household including playdates and extracurricular activities. We recognize that people are getting COVID fatigue, but now is a time to be even more mindful of your actions as over 50% of cases are asymptomatic.
Please continue to monitor symptoms and keep your child home if they exhibit any symptoms, alert the school nurse and principal of any out of state travel plans, and continue to follow the health and safety guidelines. We are all in this together and we need to work together to support our teachers and students.
12/21/20 - Community Message
To the Lincoln Community,
The School Committee recognizes, as we think the wider community does, that participating in school and teaching our children during Covid-19 is part of a larger, truly unprecedented event for which there was no playbook, no prior training, no best-practices manual.
We are proud of being part of a community that has been as forward looking and adaptable as possible. Our Administration and faculty with the support of the community were thoughtful and considered the needs of our children and their families to establish and implement protocols and innovative approaches to be able to provide a meaningful educational experience for all students. We applaud them and thank them for their efforts, recognizing that their thoughtfulness and dedication have allowed us to continue successfully in an in-person model and have kept our children and staff safe.
The majority of people involved have been amazing and supportive. Parents have been understanding of how different things are and how difficult it sometimes is to ‘carry on normally’; it's delightful to see how appreciated many of our teachers feel in general as a result.
However, we have been made aware that in some cases nurses and faculty have been treated harshly and unfairly when carrying out protocols established by the district. There has been yelling, harsh accusations, and disrespectful engagement.
We understand that many of us are feeling the strain of this situation, and that it can be easy for emotions to rise to the front when we talk with each other about complicated matters. It is an emotional time for everyone.
Our request for the community is:
- let's treat people with dignity and decency in our conversations, even where there is disagreement, disappointment, or concern
- if there are issues, recognize that protocols are in place and being followed consistently. If you disagree with those protocols or want to understand them better, please take your concerns to the principal, superintendent or the School Committee. Please do not take your frustrations out on our faculty and nurses.
- We have asked people to limit their travel, and if travelling please follow state and local guidelines and protocols regarding testing and quarantine so we can continue to offer in-school options. However, we understand that some people will choose to travel in spite of guidelines. If this is the case, we ask for two things. 1) please do follow State and local testing and quarantine guidelines which include either receiving a negative COVID test result administered up to 72hrs prior to returning to MA or self-quarantining 14 days. 2) please, proactively, send an email to the school nurse and principal to let them know of your travel plans and activities. Transparency is necessary to successfully manage in a complicated environment. The burden of sharing travel plans should not be put on students.
Once again, thank you to the majority of families that are working with us to carry out protocols that are designed for the good for the whole community. We appreciate your support and engagement.
Best wishes for a healthy new year!