Wellesley’s Board of Health this week is firming up its support for organizations from the School Department and School Committee to the Council on Aging, as they seek to require mask use in light of rising concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19.
The Board of Health recommended during its meeting on Monday that the schools start the year with everyone masked, and expect the state to issue such rules anyway on Tuesday morning. While the timing is tricky, the School Committee sought the Board of Health’s guidance in advance of its own Tuesday night meeting, which takes place about a week before the new school year begins. A likely scenario is that the schools could reassess the full mask mandate come October based on how things are going.
The Board of Health navigated the intricacies of advisories vs. mandates vs. orders as it discussed a request from the Council on Aging (COA) for a mask mandate, though the Board is trying to pin down whether the Council might already qualify for a mandate through a state rule applying to congregate care facilities that share functions offered by the COA at the Tolles Parsons Center.
The COA would also like to issue a vaccination mandate for employees and patrons, though legal and human resources requirements remain to be studied on that front. Despite having a good ventilation system at the Tolles Parsons Center and taking other precautions, the COA’s clientele is a highly COVID-vulnerable population, emphasized COA Board Chair Marlene Allen.
Wellesley is looking to issue a strong advisory for the public and public facing town employees to wear masks while in town buildings, and discussed at the Board of Health meeting the possibility of a mask mandate for town employees. Union and legal issues would need to be hashed out on that front first.
The Board of Health has a date on Thursday with the Select Board to discuss and vote on an indoor mask mandate for town buildings.
Trickle of newly vaccinated
The share of Wellesley’s overall population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 remains at 66% and the percentage of those eligible who have been fully vaxxed remain at 77% over the past week.
Fewer than 100 additional residents have become fully vaccinated over the past week, according to weekly data released by the state.
Speak up self-testers
Wellesley’s Health Department says the town is averaging 1 or 2 cases a day, with no major trends among those infected. Though the department is getting concerned about keeping a read on the situation in light of increased use of home tests and more difficulty finding public places nearby to get tested.
The Health Department is urging members of the public who are using self-tests to reach out to the town and their doctors with results if they test positive.
The town wants to make sure people are taking the right steps to stop the spread of the virus.