Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,
Happy New Year! We look forward to welcoming you back to school and supporting our students and their families in learning, growing, and reaching for personal goals.
In the weeks leading up to the holiday break, we had a daily steady increase in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 indicating that we are still dealing with this pandemic and its variants, Delta and Omicron. With holiday gatherings and social functions, we expect to see an increase in cases in the next few weeks. As of yesterday, we had five reported cases for individuals with positive COVID test results from Brayton Elementary School, Greylock Elementary School, and Drury High School.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), has issued rapid results self administered test kits for all staff to use prior to the return to school on Monday. By ensuring that our staff are not carrying the virus, we can limit the spread of the virus to your child(ren). If you would like a test kit for yourself or for your child, the City of North Adams has a limited number of kits for families that qualify. In addition we will continue to implement our mitigation strategies for masking, personal hygiene, classroom disinfection, weekly COVID surveillance testing, and supporting vaccination and booster shots. Please consider double masking for your child(ren) for the first week back to school when infection rates are expected to increase. A disposable mask with a cloth mask over it provides an added layer of protection or the use of a KN-95 mask is recommended.
As we enter the cold and flu season, protecting our immunity is enhanced and supported by these mitigation measures, but so does drinking plenty of water, getting regular exercise, and managing stress. The new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh with new goals, and a commitment to maintaining good health is always a worthy endeavor. Limiting the spread of viruses, including COVID-19, helps to keep all of our students in school and learning. Please do your part by signing up your child for weekly COVID Surveillance testing, maintaining physical distancing practices outside of school, reinforcing good hygiene practices for hand sanitization and keeping hands away from the face, and talking with your child’s health care provider about vaccination if you have not done so already.
COVID- 19 Symptoms
If you or your child develops any symptoms associated with COVID-19, it is important that you stay home and schedule a test to confirm your illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Fever or chills or shaking chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
New loss of taste or smell
Muscle or body aches
In addition, if a student has any combination of the symptoms below please contact your child’s pediatrician regarding the potential of a COVID-19 infection:
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
Inability to wake or stay awake
Bluish lips or face
Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Students 5 years old and older can be vaccinated. If the student is under the age of 18, they must have a parent or guardian present to authorize the vaccination. Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can obtain vaccination appointments by calling the office (413-663-8365). Those who are not Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can of course still be vaccinated, these individuals can obtain a vaccination at any of the sites located throughout the state.
Anyone aged 16 years old or older is eligible to receive a booster shot. To determine your eligibility and to schedule an appointment, please go to https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine for more information.
COVID Surveillance Testing
North Adams Public Schools has implemented a voluntary free weekly COVID-19 testing program to help keep our staff, students and community safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Regular COVID-19 testing of students and staff will help us lower the risk of the disease in our school by finding and isolating individuals who have COVID-19 quickly, even before, or if , they show symptoms. The weekly COVID-19 testing program is just another way we are striving to keep our school environment safe for everyone. Please provide consent for your child to participate in this valuable program. You need to provide an updated consent for the 2021-2022 school year, even if your child participated in the testing program during the 2020-2021 school year.
The consent form is available on the district website at https://www.napsk12.org/page/c....
Dr. Barbara Malkas
Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools