News — Superintendent

A Message from Superintendent Josh Vadala

August 31, 2021

Dear Peabody School Community,

Thank you for your continued support as we kick off the 2021-2022 school year. Keeping your students safe and in school is a top priority of the Peabody Public Schools. We have learned a great deal over this past year and our current guidance and procedures reflect the most updated recommendations from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

For the 2021-22 school year, we are partnering with the Peabody Health Department to offer an extra layer of protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19, our COVID-19 testing program at school. This program has two components: symptomatic testing for students or staff who show symptoms of COVID-19 at school, and test and stay for students who may have been exposed while in school but are not showing symptoms. Each of these is a quick, non-invasive nasal swab that is collected under the supervision of a school nurse or trained health provider. Unlike COVID-19 tests of the past, these are not uncomfortable and easy for students to do themselves.

This program is voluntary and testing will only be done for those that consent. Students only participate with permission from a parent or guardian. It is important to Peabody Public Schools that you are fully informed regarding the process and that we can answer any questions that you might have in advance of asking you to sign the online consent form (link can be found below). Below we describe each of the two parts of our testing program, how they are conducted, and what they are used for.

Symptomatic testing is used when a student or staff member is showing symptoms of COVID-19 during school. Students and staff should not come to school if they are feeling sick while at home; symptomatic testing is for individuals who begin to show symptoms during the course of the school day. Some symptoms of the virus look identical to other illnesses like the cold or flu, and this test tells us whether a symptomatic student has COVID-19 or not. This is a rapid test, and we receive the results of this test within 15 minutes. If a student has minimal symptoms and tests negative, they can remain in school.

Test and stay allows students who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 while at school to stay in school if the student is not showing symptoms. Instead of needing to quarantine and miss school, these students will take a daily rapid test while they remain in school as long as they are not symptomatic. Students participate in test and stay for at least five days after they may have been exposed.

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they must quarantine at home for the CDC-recommended ten days since symptoms appeared or ten days since the positive test before returning to school. The student or staff member must also be without a fever for 24 hours.

Although students and staff members who are vaccinated are much less likely to spread or contract the virus, it is important for us to create an inclusive environment for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

To participate in the program, you must complete the online consent form on behalf of yourself (staff) or your student by Friday September 10th – https://www.cic-health.com/consent/ma?district=Peabody. There is no charge for participating. To learn more about our COVID-19 testing program, please visit (https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/testing/). We anticipate that the testing program will begin before October 1st, once our staff is able to receive training. If you have additional questions regarding the program, please contact the building principal and/or school nurse at your child’s school.

It is our hope that these measures will work together to keep our schools safe and our staff and students in school.  Thanks again for your support during this challenging time. We look forward to working collaboratively as we return to full in-person learning.

Sincerely,

Josh Vadala

Superintendent of Schools

 

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