Wellesley Public Schools and the Wellesley Health Department followed up this past Wednesday’s report of a COVID-19 case spike at Wellesley High, and the subsequent closing of the school for in-person classes until next month, with an update regarding five additional cases. (Update: 11/16/20—another case was reported on Monday.)
The decision to temporarily close the high school for in-person learning happened despite the school system still passing two of three metrics on its COVID-19 dashboard. Wellesley High is now averaging a positive case per day over the past two weeks.
The new cases were revealed amidst a backdrop of concerning COVID-19 metrics across the state, which has seen a marked increase in the seven-day average for confirmed cases and hospital patients (nearby, Newton-Wellesley Hospital has stopped permitting visitors in light of the situation). The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has recently begun releasing data on COVID-19 cases across the Commonwealth’s school districts as well.
“Officials are reporting evidence of community spread and are urging everyone to continue to do their part and follow all current guidelines,” according to notice issued by the town. The new cases are related to the positive cases identified this past week.
The Wellesley Public School system recently expanded its viral testing program to include voluntary surveillance testing of staff and Wellesley Middle School and High School students.
Dear Members of the Wellesley Community,
We write to share an update on the number of positive COVID-19 cases that have continued to be identified at Wellesley High School. At the time of our joint message last Wednesday, eight cases had been identified in less than one week. Following that announcement, additional positive cases have been confirmed, bringing that total now to 13 positive cases within 11 days. While these cases have included both students and staff, the majority of the cases have been adult members of the WHS staff, with strong evidence of in-school transmission. At this point in time, these cases have not impacted any other school.
Based on both the prior and active contact tracing related to these cases completed in close collaboration between the Wellesley Public Schools and Wellesley Department of Health, we are continuing to conduct a detailed analysis of the cause(s) of this cluster to help guide any further mitigation steps we can take prior to WHS reopening after Thanksgiving.
We recognize that this news is disconcerting given the many safety layers that were already in place at WHS and across all schools. We will continue to do everything we can to support the safe, continued operations of the Wellesley Public Schools moving forward.
As always, we each have a role to play in stopping the spread of the virus, including wearing masks, washing our hands, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings. All of these steps will be particularly important to follow as we approach the holiday season.
Thanks for your continued support.
Dr. David Lussier
Superintendent of Schools
Director, Wellesley Health Department