Resuming Full Onsite Instruction for All Classes Tomorrow (Tuesday, 11/3/20) Overturned Recent Case
November 2, 2020
Dear Families and Staff,
Thank you sincerely for your flexibility regarding our unexpected temporary pivot to remote learning on Friday and today.
Although we were provided clearance by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) on Thursday evening to remain fully open onsite, we exercised our own discretion to seek and review additional information regarding last week’s COVID announcements. This additional time has been highly valuable, and we have obtained the reassurance we were seeking to resume full onsite instruction tomorrow, with confidence, for all classes.
** In addition, beyond our diligent preparations, we also received confirmation from DPH and the Waltham Board of Health today that the case reported on Thursday evening (10/29) was a false positive. This case has been revoked and overturned, and the individual and anyone identified as a close contact to the individual has been cleared of involvement. Records will be updated to reflect Milestones as having only one COVID positive case (i.e., the initial notification reported on Tuesday, 10/27/20)*.*
• Decision to Resume Full Onsite Instruction for All Classes Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 3rd): After thoroughly reviewing information with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Waltham Board of Health, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) we will resume onsite instruction for all classes beginning Tuesday, November 3rd. We have been working closely with these agencies, and no concerns for the school were identified with resuming full programming and services.
Steps that Led to This Decision:
- Thorough Agency Collaboration: When news of our second COVID positive team member (i.e., which has since been overturned to be considered negative) arrived Thursday evening, we were able to confer with DPH but the Waltham Board of Health and DESE offices had closed for the business day. Milestones exercised our own discretion, out of an abundance of caution, to take time to review cases with and receive guidance from all three agencies regarding our next steps. Each reconfirmed the same interpretation and guidance. They continue to have high confidence in the safety of our policies and procedures, and cases were determined to be unrelated (i.e., and as of today, 1 has been overturned as negative) without any evidence of spread within our community.
- Negative Test Results for Close Contacts: After receiving notification of a second case (i.e., which has since been overturned as of today, 11/2/20) in a short period of time and identifying that the second case would have involved “close contacts,” we wanted any individual who had been identified as a “close contact” to receive testing. There were no students identified as close contacts. Staff who were identified as close contacts have already tested negative for COVID-19 using the PCR test, which has the highest sensitivity and specificity for reliability. In addition, DESE/DPH regulations require any individual who is identified as a close contact to complete a mandatory quarantine period outside of school from the time of their last potential exposure, even when a negative test result is furnished. Therefore, by Milestones temporarily pivoting to remote instruction, we were able to: (a) receive confirmation that the close contacts tested negative for COVID-19 and (b) ensure that Milestones would be past a period of potential infectiousness when reopening onsite. This information is no longer relevant due to the recent overturned test result, but we are providing this context to make you aware of the diligence that has taken place since Thursday.
- Onsite Coverage for Student Support: As part of a plan to resume onsite instruction, we also took time to reconfirm that we expect to have appropriate onsite staffing when we reopen tomorrow. We do ask parents/guardians to please be patient if there are any delays with faculty responding to questions, as our chief priority will be supporting students as they rejoin us onsite tomorrow.
- Invalidated Test Result (as of today, 11/2/20) and Reminder that the PCR Test is Considered Most Reliable: Today we received confirmation from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that our most recently reported case was a false positive. The test that resulted in a positive reading was a rapid test, but the employee subsequently followed up with a PCR test. The repeated PCR was conducted within an approved window of time to take precedence over a rapid result, and it was found to be negative. DPH has already confirmed this update with the Waltham Board of Health and will be doing so with DESE. For this reason, we would like to remind staff and families that the PCR test is still considered as the most reliable by State agencies for assessing COVID-19. When testing is warranted, Milestones also requires the PCR test in order for students or staff to be cleared to return to Milestones if they exhibit illness on attestation forms.
- Halloween Activities: Halloween activities for students will be rescheduled for this Friday afternoon, November 6th.
Thank you again for your cooperation through this process. Our team at Milestones has been working actively since last week’s announcements to review our health and safety protocols to ensure our readiness to welcome our students and faculty back tomorrow.
Should you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to me (Kim Rockers: firstname.lastname@example.org), and we look forward to resuming onsite instruction.