April 9, 2021 Letter from Superintendent Malkas

Dear Students, Families, and Staff Members,

Each Thursday evening the Department of Public Health releases the city/town and Berkshire County data updates for the previous 14 day period. However, the state Department of Public Health has altered the presentation of that data in a dashboard. In addition, some of the data presented has been redefined based on types of tests, number of positive tests per individual case, and demographic criteria based on the size of the city and town. The “stoplight” protocol identifying a community risk of transmission of COVID as unshaded, green, yellow, or red has been eliminated from the data set. Due to these changes, some of the metrics used in our previous reporting are now calculated. For example the number of COVID positive cases is no longer reported through the state reporting system, but it is calculated using the percent positivity and total number of cases for the same 14 day period.  Because these measures are calculated and not reported directly from DPH, the COVID Data Team will continue to review the data, but we will no longer provide the weekly data report in addition to the notification through the superintendent’s office. The data dashboard for cities and towns can be accessed here.

There are a total of 5 cases in the district involving in-person/hybrid model students and staff, and 6 additional cases involving fully remote students who are COVID positive.  Notification of the specific in-person and hybrid model cases from Colegrove Park Elementary School, Greylock Elementary School, and Drury High School occurred by letters from the Superintendent posted to the district website and social media.

The key information used to determine moving to full remote learning or remaining with the  in-person for elementary grades and hybrid model for grades 7-12 includes:

  • The positivity rate for the City of North Adams: Current rate is 2.34%.

  • The average positivity rate for 15 communities, not including North Adams, calculated from the total positive cases divided by the total number of tests for the last 14 days multiplied by 100: Current rate is 2.25%.

  • The pool testing results for Cohort A for this week and last week’s Cohort B students, staff, and student athletes are reported as negative.

  • The report by the school nurse leader of the total number of cases of COVID by school and the status of each case (contact tracing, quarantine and self-isolation, and awaiting follow-up test results).

On Friday, April 9, 2021, the COVID Data Team (a joint labor management team) met to review the data and take a vote for the return to school. The vote was unanimous to accept the data report and support the return of our elementary schools for full in-person learning and a continuation of the hybrid model for grades 7-12 effective Monday, April 12, 2021 for all grades.

With continued support from our families for use of mitigation strategies, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and diligent personal hygiene both in and out of school, we can keep our schools open and students attending in-person learning for longer periods of time.

Please be sure to read the important message from our School Nurse Leader Lauren Gage with additional information. I hope that you enjoy the spring weather and stay healthy and COVID free this weekend!

Sincerely,

Dr. Barbara Malkas

Superintendent