So much for those designer cloth masks that so many of us have been styling to ward off COVID-19 spread. If you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in the N95 or KN95 masks and make sure they’re properly fitted…and that you don’t keep fussing with them using your filthy hands.
The Board of Health recently made clear its preference for the more effective masks, and now Wellesley Public Schools and local churches are singing that same tune.
Wellesley Public Schools, which should be updating the entire town on this public health situation, on Thursday updated just the school community on COVID-19 matters. The schools, scrambling to recruit substitute teachers to fill in for those who are out due to COVID protocols, have documented 200-plus COVID-19 cases in its population since Monday.
“Our mask mandate remains in effect at all schools. It remains important that everyone wear an appropriate mask, which is fitted properly. We ask that no one wear a cloth mask in school. A surgical mask should be the minimum mask worn, with KN95 and N95 masks providing further protection. All staff were issued KN95 masks this week. While we do not have a similar inventory to provide these masks to all students, each school does have an ample supply of surgical masks to provide them to students if needed.”
WPS emphasized that its population’s vaccination rates are high and that this helps to lessen the impact of the virus on those who contract it.
WPS Supt. Dr. David Lussier said during this week’s Board of Health meeting (about 10 minutes into the Wellesley Media recording) that nearly 600 out of 4,200 students were out on Monday, and that that absentee figure decreased by about 100 a day as the week went on. Nearly 150 staff members were out on Wednesday, causing the school system to get creative in order to have enough adults on hand for classroom and supervision work.
Lussier acknowledged, in response to a question from Board member Linda Oliver Grape regarding the spirit of students: “I think there’s a lot of anxiety across the board. I think that’s true for staff who are also parents themselves and are managing their own children in other districts… I think there’s anxiety among parents, among students as case numbers go up. I would say all this feels relatively fragile going forward. At the same time I think we believe fairly strongly that schools may be the safest place for people to be in…there’s lots of ways that exposure can occur outside of school and we know the impact of what happens when students are not in school…. we really want to do everything we can to keep our doors open…”
Among area places of worship stepping up their mask guidance is Village Church in Wellesley Square, which will supply masks for those who need them to attend services:
“As we continue to monitor the pandemic, we seek to follow the best available guidance to keep our communities healthy and safe. We continue to require masks during all in-person gatherings. Considering the recent rise in cases of the omicron variant, we ask that all who attend in-person gatherings please wear the best mask available. Research indicates that “respirator masks” (N95, KN95, KF94, etc.) are much more effective than cloth masks. Please wear the most effective mask you have and consider purchasing more effective masks if possible….”
The Archdiocese of Boston has extended its mask mandate into March, which affects Wellesley’s St. John-St. Paul Catholic Collaborative.
More serious measures are in the works around town. The Council on Aging, for example, will have a vaccination mandate discussion.
Know of other more strict COVID rules being put into place in town? firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to members of the WPS community who passed along the schools’ latest COVID memo to us!
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