District Update: September 24, 2021
The Dedham Schools have been rigidly following all MA DPH and DESE protocols and practices in our schools. Despite these efforts, since the first day of school on September 2, there have been 11 students and 2 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 in our schools. Some of these have been uncovered through the district’s COVID-19 pooled testing program, while others have been discovered through the district’s “Test & Stay” program. A few have been found through outside testing due to family transmission. Since Monday, September 13, there have been just over 3900 positive cases of COVID-19 for students and staff in Massachusetts public schools. Student/staff COVID-19 statistics for all school districts in the state (since September 13) are available HERE on the DESE website.
This morning (Friday, September 24) our rapid testing (“Test and Stay”) program uncovered a positive COVID-19 case in a first grade classroom at Greenlodge Elementary School. While we have confirmed that this classroom has been following all DPH and DESE protocols, this is the 5th positive case in this classroom in the past two weeks.
After consulting directly with DESE Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley as well as the Dedham Health Department, we will be shutting down this first grade Greenlodge classroom for the next week (September 27th-October 1st). Although current state regulations do not permit remote learning, Dedham has received direct approval from DESE to conduct classes via Zoom for this unique situation while shut down.
Just today, DESE provided all districts with reminders about established guidance for determining close contacts in schools. We are continuing to follow or exceed all school COVID-19 safety protocols and guidance regarding close contacts from MA DPH and DESE. We will remain in constant communication with the Dedham Health Department and DESE to ensure safe school operations for all students, faculty, and staff.
WE NEED EVERYONE’S HELP. It is very clear that Dedham’s COVID-19 pooled testing and “Test & Stay” rapid testing works to uncover asymptomatic COVID-19 cases for students and staff. If you have not yet provided consent for pooled testing (whether vaccinated or not) for your child, please click here to complete the online consent form. We need eligible students and staff to participate and add an additional level of safety to maintain in-person learning for all students. DPS has already conducted over 1300 pooled tests, but we need more participation to increase confidence in our level of safety.
I want to thank all our district faculty/staff, parents, and students for their tremendous efforts and cooperation in reopening our schools this fall, and doing their best to keep them open. If you have additional questions about Dedham’s COVID protocols or guidance, please view the Wednesday, 9-22-21 COVID-19 Zoom webinar posted on the Greenlodge website. As always, feel free to reach out if you have additional questions.