Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s Wellesley Board of Health meeting (see Wellesley Media recording):
Neither the town nor Wellesley Public Schools system reported any COVID cases this past week. WPS Head of Nursing Linda Corridan said this was the second straight week for the schools without a positive case. More than 400 students are scheduled to get vaccines at a clinic at Wellesley High School this week, and will return for a second dose in mid-June.
The Board of Health recently questioned whether Wellesley Public Schools should continue with its COVID-19 pool testing for the last few weeks of the school year in light of falling case numbers and the fact that so many faculty and staff (and increasingly, students) are vaccinated. It’s not like doing the testing is free. But it sounds like WPS will finish out the year with testing.
The hope is that it won’t be necessary come the new school year, and Corridan did say the testing will not be done for the extended summer program. “We’re hoping we will not be in a place where we need to do testing in the fall,” she said.
The Board of Health emphasized its desire to work closely with the school system on procedures before classes begin again in the fall, and a plea was made as well to give parents a say in how masking and other protocols might be handled at that time.
Wellesley resident and Tufts Medical Center Dr. Shira Doron said that case and patient numbers as well as vaccination take-up are looking good, but that anxiety is rising among those concerned as the state’s face covering order is rescinded come May 29. The town is redoubling efforts to let residents and town employees know that the Health Department is available to help people with their mental and social health as the state and town reopen, said Wellesley Health Director Lenny Izzo, whose team is also very busy handling an increase in requests by camps and other programs looking to expand their offerings in light of fewer COVID-19 restrictions.
Mental health event rescheduled
Parents and other adults are invited to take part in a Health Department online program discussing teen depression on June 8 at 7pm (the event has been rescheduled from May 24). Join a free webinar and learn from a clinician about how to recognize the signs of depression and support our teenagers. Register with the Health Department in advance.
Appetite for more outdoor dining
With the state’s Emergency Order being lifted on June 15, expanded outdoor dining is supposed to end 60 days later. But both Izzo and Select Board member Beth Sullivan Woods said there’s an “appetite” in town across town departments and the community for more outdoor dining, and that if the state doesn’t come up with a solution that the town could.
“We are looking at what we can do as an interim solution and what we can do as a longer-term solution,” Sullivan Woods said. “A number of us believe [expanded outdoor dining] is here to stay,” she said.
Separately, the Nourishing Wellesley program backed by state funds and coordinated by the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber, Wellesley Health Department, and Wellesley Housing Authority started in March and will have served 1,115 meals to those in need by early June. About $40K was spent with local restaurants, providing a win for both residents and local businesses. Volunteers, including from the Wellesley Service League and Wellesley High Key Club, have supported the effort.
Another state grant could be on its way this fall to extend the program.
The share of Wellesley’s population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 crossed the 50% mark this past week, according to weekly data released by the state. The data is murkier than in past weeks because 12-15-year-olds have started to get vaccinated, and because fewer than 30 had in Wellesley at the time the data was released, it has been suppressed to protect privacy.
Wellesley has more than 15,000 residents fully vaccinated, and the state now has surpassed 3.3 million fully vaccinated against the disease.
Wellesley boasts 65% of its population with at least 1 dose. Significant increases were seen among the 30-49 age group, with those fully vaccinated increasing from 61% to 69% over the past week, while 86% of those in the 50-64 age category in Wellesley are now vaccinated, up from 82% the week before.
Wellesley’s COVID-19 numbers, including an average daily incidence rate now just over 2, are heading in the right direction. Wellesley Public Schools report 87% of staff is fully vaccinated, and a clinic is being held at the high school on May 25 for 12-17-year-olds.
Our roundup of the latest Wellesley community news:
Mental health awareness on library lawn
Wellesley has set up a flag and sign display on the lawn of Wellesley Free Library’s main branch to boost mental health awareness, and to remind individuals and families that Wellesley is here to help.
The Health Department, which has numerous mental health resources available, hopes the display will encourage more people locally to discuss the subject and seek support if needed.
Touch-a-Truck to collect food
Don’t miss the chance to peek into dump trucks, front loaders, and perhaps even a fire truck or a police cruiser. Bring a non-perishable food donation to help fill a bucket or a truck bed.
A variety of trucks will be open for visitors to explore on Saturday, May 22, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at DPW Headquarters (20 Municipal Way).
Also on Saturday, Wellesley Recycling & Disposal Facility (RDF) users can fill a truck with non-perishable food at the book exchange area.
All donated food will go to the Wellesley Food Pantry which currently serves approximately 400 clients in about 200 households in town. One third of clients are children 18 years old and younger. Suggested donations include chicken broth (low sodium or no salt), almond milk (plain, unsweetened), canned salmon, laundry detergent, canned beets, Dinty Moore beef stew, prunes, peanut butter in plastic jars, soy milk (plain, unsweetened), and vegetable oil.
When exploring the DPW trucks, please remember to cover your face if you can’t remain distant from others. Surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day.
Questions? Contact the Wellesley DPW by telephone at 781-235-7600 ext. 3300 or by email at [email protected]
Kids Backing Kids organizes diaper drive to help families in need
Kids Backing Kids, Inc. is accepting donations for its 1st annual Diaper Drive in Wellesley. Donations of diapers, pull-ups, and swimmers of all sizes (both new and opened packages) and new containers of baby wipes can be dropped off on Sat., May 22, 8am-3pm in the parking lot across from California Pizza Kitchen.
Then non-profit organization’s volunteers decided to organize a diaper drive upon learning that one in three families cannot afford diapers for their young children. “Diapers are really expensive and we thought that a community-wide diaper drive would be one small way that we could help families in need,” said Grace Rodrigue, co-founder of Kids Backing Kids and a senior at Wellesley High School. “Diapers and wipes are necessities in the first few years of life, costing families as much as $100 per month.”
The need for a diaper drive is greater than ever during the ongoing COVID pandemic. The cost of diapers rose over 8 percent in the last year. But that’s not the end of it. Kimberly-Clark and Proctor & Gamble—two of the big diaper makers—recently said that additional price increases are coming this summer. This will be another blow to low-income families already struggling to make ends meet.
The goal of the drive is to collect 10,000 diapers. “Kids Backing Kids represents the best of the young people in our community, and providing space for the diaper drive is our way to support their great initiative,” said Chris Fleming, Vice President, Asset
Management for Linden Square owner Federal Realty Investment Trust.
Can’t stop by Linden Square? Here are more ways to donate:
Wellesley Dental Group and Wellesley Friendly Aid are joining forces to co-host an American Red Cross community blood drive on Tuesday, May 25 from 9am-2pm at the Wellesley Community Center at 219 Washington St.
Register online or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Please bring picture identification, and remember to eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of fluids before donating.
If you have questions, contact Wellesley Dental Group by phone at 781-237-9071 or by email at [email protected]
The share of Wellesley’s population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has risen from 40% to 47% over the past week, with big jumps within certain age ranges, according to weekly data released by the state.
Wellesley has nearly 14,000 residents fully vaccinated, and the state now has surpassed 3 million fully vaccinated against the disease.
Wellesley boasts 62% of its population with at least 1 dose. Significant increases were seen among the 30-49 age group, with those fully vaccinated increasing from 48% to 61% over the past week, while 82% of those in the 50-64 age category in Wellesley are now vaccinated, up from 70% the week before.
Wellesley’s COVID-19 numbers, including an average daily incidence rate in the single digits, are heading in the right direction. No big spikes showing on the Wellesley Public Schools dashboard either, as there had been concern there could be following April vacation.
Wellesley Public Schools is working with a pharmacy to host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Wellesley High School on Tuesday, May 25 from 2 to 6 p.m. Any student receiving a vaccine that day will be invited back on June 15 for their second dose. This clinic is free of charge and open to any WPS student between the ages of 12 and 18. Contact WPS for information.
Just because Natick is way over there, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to what the town is up to. Natick’s moves could have a big impact on Wellesley residents’ lives.
Wellesley residents on the Natick line near Rte. 9 East and the Morses and Jennings ponds have been trying to make their voices heard as Natick narrows down candidates for a recreational marijuana shop. One of the proposed locations is at the current Nine East Wine Emporium, though the vibes we were getting from a recent Natick Select Board meeting and based on the latest town rankings is that this location is not likely. But you never know.
Neighbors have expressed concerns about increased traffic in their neighborhood, among other things. Natick Select Board members have listened to neighbors and acknowledge their concerns, though also have stated that many others are looking forward to recreational marijuana shops opening and just don’t want to speak out publicly.
A discussion of the Natick proposals is on the Wellesley Select Board agenda this Monday, May 10.
Meanwhile, at the very opposite end of town, Natick is ramping up communications regarding a decision it needs to make about the fate of the iconic dam in South Natick on the Charles River. The choice currently comes down to fixing the dam and spillway, or ditching them.
What breaching the dam could mean for those downriver, including Wellesley residents and businesses, is unclear but nerve wracking. Any bad repercussions for those not in Natick will likely not be at the top of that town’s list of priorities after such a deed is done.
Natick Town Meeting in 2019 approved $1.25M in funds to fix the dam. But since then the prospect of just getting rid of it has been been entertained, and encouraged by those who speculate that there will be environmental, town cost, and safety benefits to doing so. Natick hopes to make a decision by year-end.