Wellesley Public Schools (WPS), the Health Department, and Facilities Management Department joined forces on an investigation into a recent cluster of COVID-19 cases at the high school and determined that changes are needed in the main office space.
WPS and the Health Department said in a joint statement that: “The team concluded that the origin of the transmission of a large number of cases was the main office area and recommended a number of additional mitigation measures, including reducing the density of individuals in this area, better defining one-way entrance/egress, increasing air circulation, and modifying the use of plexiglass dividers. This last finding was both surprising and important for us, as our test of air circulation in this area using smoke devices clearly showed that in several cases, plexiglass dividers, when coupled with side panels, significantly impeded air circulation.”
We’ve heard that other town departments have been hungry for this sort of detail to help determine whether they should be reconsidering their own COVID-19 precautions. But up until now, WPS hadn’t made clear at least publicly where within the school population cases were coming from. Now it has revealed that “the majority of WPS cases have involved adult members of the school community,” though adds that student cases are rising at the secondary level (no student cases have been reported at the elementary school level).
WPS. Supt. Dr. David Lussier vowed this past week that forensic efforts would be made to determine possible COVID-19 protocol issues.
As outlined in the memo issued on Saturday, “This included a review of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and air circulation, mapping movement patterns and locations of work stations, cleaning protocols, and many other areas of daily operations.”
Mitigation steps will be taken before school reconvenes in person after Thanksgiving, and other school and town buildings will be reviewed as well. Baseline testing is also being planned for the high school community before everyone returns. WHS went all remote at least temporarily when the recent COVID-19 cluster emerged.
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