Here's a quick wrap-up of some news and information that has come out this week that is relevant to school reopening plans, along with links to source documents and more detailed reports.
Infection and testing positivity rates
Each Wednesday the state releases a Weekly COVID-19 Public Health Report that includes town-level data. Needham continues to be categorized as "green," with an average daily incidence rate per 100,000 of 1.7 (down from a rate of 3.4 last week). The testing positivity rate has also improved, from 1.3% last week to .67% this week. These two metrics are some that will be considered as the district determines whether it is safe to return to school in person this fall.
Additional guidance on health and safety requirements
DESE and the Department of Pubic Health (DPH) issued a joint memo to provide updates to previously released guidance, with a particular focus on protocols for responding to COVID-19 scenarios in school, on the bus, or in community settings. A summary of these updates is provided in a Powerpoint presentation. Also, guidance on school health regulations was provided to address the new requirement for flu vaccination.
Reopening models in neighboring towns
On August 18, DESE published a list of reopening models by district. Among the 20 towns Needham typically compares itself to, 16 are planning on reopening with a hybrid model at some level, while four are doing remote-only for all levels. Brookline, Concord, and Holliston are using different models for different grade levels. Minuteman Regional and Norfolk County Agricultural High Schools are also planning to reopen with a hybrid model.
Fall sports guidance
DESE and MIAA released Joint Guidance on Modified Sports Seasons for 2020-21. The fall sports of golf, cross-country running, field hockey, soccer, gymnastics, girls volleyball, fall swimming/diving have been conditionally approved for the fall season, which will begin on September 18. A new "Floating Season" has been established between winter and spring to allow football, cheer, and unified basketball to still compete this season, as well as any other sports which districts decide to delay. The guidance also contains some details on modifications for practices and competitions.
Update FAQs from Needham Public Schools
The district continues to update the FAQ document on the NPS website, which covers the following topics: