MANSFIELD — Superintendent Teresa Murphy would like to inform members of the community about important information relating to COVID-19 testing data.
Each week the Massachusetts Department of Public Health releases a report on COVID-19 incidence rates in each city and town in the Commonwealth. Any community that reports a rate of 8 or higher of average daily incidences per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period is designated as a Red “High-Risk” community.
As of the data released Thursday, Oct. 29, the Town of Mansfield’s COVID-19 designation level has changed to red. This does not necessarily mean that the schools change their model of learning (currently a hybrid model), which includes in-person learning.
What Does a Red Designation Mean for Mansfield Public Schools?
The School Department constantly monitors the situation of positive cases with the community. When a staff or student is found to be COVID-positive, District leaders update DESE’s COVID Reporting Unit. Next steps include implementing existing DESE protocols to notify close contacts for testing and isolation, conferring with local public health and/or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to determine if transmission is occurring in the class or school, and/or seeking advice on whether to suspend in-person learning for that class, grade or school.
There is no one threshold or metric that indicates a school or district should suspend in-person learning. It is important to note that these decisions need to be made based on local context, occur in collaboration with DESE and the local board of health, and may be based on the following factors:
- If there is a need for an extensive cleaning of classrooms, sections of buildings or other facility mitigation;
- If the state mobile testing unit results, or other test results, suggest widespread transmission is occurring (mobile testing unit is deployed through DESE in response to reporting criteria);
- If there are widespread absences among students and staff due to illness or status of being a contact of a positive case;
- If the school is in a district reported as “red” on the DPH health metric for the past three weeks, and risk of transmission to students and/or staff is increased;
- More than 1.5% positive test of total students enrolled in each school building;
- More than 5% positive test rate in the community of Mansfield;
- Other situations deemed by the public health department.
“We are in constant contact with local and state public health officials and monitor the case rates closely so we have the most up-to-date information available to use when making our decisions on the status of our schools,” Superintendent Murphy said. “We will continue to provide parents and community members with updates and guidance as necessary, and encourage people to reach out should they have any questions or concerns.”