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VacationFirst positive COVID case detected through pool testing | News | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly

First positive COVID case detected through pool testing | News | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly

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TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury School Com­mittee met on April 18, 2021 for a virtual meeting via WebEx, joined by newly elected members Bridget Garabe­di­an and Nicholas Parsons.

The committee first en­tered into executive session.

The committee reorgan­ized as is customary following the April 10 town election.

Superintendent Chris Malone oversaw the pro­cess. Keith Sullivan was reelected as chair, Shan­non Demos was elected as vice chair, and Brid­get Garabedian was elec­ted as clerk.

The committee recognized and congratulated the Tewksbury winners of the VFW 2021 Patriot Pen and Voice of Demo­cracy contests. Kevin Dai­gle of the Ryan school placed third at the district level, and Christo­pher Rabideau, also of the Ryan, placed sixth at the state level. Brooke Bunyan, a tenth grader at TMHS, placed fourth at the state level.

Malone asked the committee and community to keep Methuen teacher Brianna McCarthy in their thoughts as she faced a severe and sudden illness. McCarthy is the assistant coach of the Tewksbury-Methuen Red Rangers hockey team, which won the 2019 Di­vision 1 State Hockey Cham­pionship.

“She’s had quite an ­impact on our student athletes at the hospital… I think as a community we should join in wishing her all the best in her recovery,” he said.

(Eds. note: McCarthy pas­sed away on April 15 at Beth Israel Hospital in Bos­­ton at the age of 30)

In his superintendent and staff report, Malone told the committee that the district saw its first positive case detected through newly implemented pool testing. The district was able to retest the students in the pool to isolate the positive case.

Malone asked families to exercise caution and good judgement over April va­cation and implored them to observe travel adviso­ries.

Malone noted a recent water leak at TMHS; ra­ther than losing the day, students and teachers pivoted online. Malone thank­ed staff and the maintenance team for their quick work to avoid a disruption in learning.

Malone also reported that AlphaBest will be star­ting up before and after school programming following April vacation in the school buildings, and is currently planning for summer programming.

Malone said that while many teachers have been partially vaccinated, the district is still working to vaccinate as many eligible educators as possible.

Assistant superintendent Brenda Theriault-Regan reviewed recent guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secon­dary education regarding non-athletic student groups, volunteering, and end-of-year activities. Meetings and events should be held virtually whenever possible, and groups must abide by indoor and outdoor capacity limits.

According to DESE, “prom is inherently a high risk activity,” and the de­partment strongly encourages districts to not hold such events this year. Theriault-Regan said that the district will continue planning and discussion on end-of-year activities for seniors, but reminded parents that everything is subject to modification as guidance changes.

Theriault-Regan also no­ted that the district will be hosting a virtual art show for the second year, which may be viewed at youtube.com/TewksburyTV. She al­so reminded the community that the district is in need of substitute teachers, including licensed nur­ses; the application is on the district website.

Business manager Dave Libby highlighted a recent personal protective equipment donation from Ocean State Job Lot, which will be used for sanitizing ca­feterias and other spaces.

Libby gave the committee a final overview of the recommended school bud­get for FY22. The committee voted to approve the budget.

Theriault-Regan updated the committee on changes to MCAS testing. Remote students in grades 3-8 will have a remote testing op­tion, but students in grades 9-10 will need to test in person and pass in order to meet state competency determinations.

Education commissioner Jeff Riley has recommended that students in grade 11 not be required to make up missed testing from tenth grade; however, students who seek eligibility for the John and Abigail Adams Scholar­ship will be required to pass the test.

Malone updated the committee on the current COVID-19 situation in the district. Malone said the district was “in the yellow” and the total number of cases had increased slightly, remaining steadily in double digits. He noted that the change to 3-foot distancing will in­crease chances for a greater number of close contacts.

The state has extended free pool testing through August.

The district is currently tweaking protocols for middle and high school students to return full in-person on April 28.

“This is like the start of a new school year in many ways,” he said.

Malone added that he hoped the district would be providing more guidance in the intervening weeks; the schools have started putting up tents and planning for the increased number of students.

In new business, the com­mittee voted to ap­prove June 16 as the last day of school and voted not to participate in school choice for the 2021-2022 school year. The committee also reviewed dates for their 2022 meeting calendar.

The next meeting is sche­duled for May 12, 2021. Residents wishing to comment may find the call-in number on the meeting agenda as posted on the town website. The meeting may be viewed on Com­cast channel 22 and Veri­zon channel 34.

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