Town working to better inform public on Covid-19

by beth on April 1, 2020

The Town is working to implement some communications improvements around Covid-19. That includes a reverse 911 call that the public should expect to receive. (Don’t panic when you get it, it will likely just be a reminder about the importance of physical distancing to slow the spread of the virus.)

The emergency alert was one of the items that Town Administrator Mark Purple told selectmen he would follow up on. It was part of last night’s update on the virus during the Board of Selectmen meeting.

During the meeting, Selectwoman Lisa Braccio passed on feedback that a reverse 911 call might be in order. She said that some people are still gathering and it might be important to remind them about the importance of physical distance. The board agreed.

Braccio also asked about the announced decision to move to weekly updates on the number of infected patients in Town. She hope that was being reconsidered.

Purple said that they were working to launch a new page on the website that would better inform the public. He pointed out that the current page, which just lists documents and links, makes it difficult for residents to find important information. IT and the TA team are working on a new version modeled after work done by other Towns.

The hope is that it will be easier to update and to navigate, allowing more real time sharing of data. Based on his conversation with Public Health Nurse Leslie Chamberlin, he also hopes to be able to add age groups of infected residents. 

Selectman Sam Stivers asked if information could also include the number of people tested in town and those who have recovered. Purple said that currently that information has been difficult to access. He said that he would look into the possibility. But he noted that Chamberlin only works part-time and is spending most of her time following up on patients and contacts.

Once the revised page launches, Purple expects it will be a work in progress. He foresaw accepting critiques and making multiple adjustments.

As of this afternoon, the new page/site is yet to be launched. I’ll let readers know when I see it go live. (Although, if that news is combined with the reverse 911, some of you will hear about it before I do.)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 no, thank you! April 1, 2020 at 6:39 PM

Just say no to reverse 911. Information overload. If the goal is to increase people’s stress levels by constantly harping about the pandemic then, by all means, hammer the public over their telephones. We’re already bombarded by TV, radio, the web, etc. by this issue – endlessly.

Increase the stress level, suppress the immune system, increase susceptibility to SARS COV 2, more cases.

Enough, already!

Count this person as one who is glad to see we’ve stopped daily counting infected Southborough residents. Knowing the count doesn’t help to keep people healthy. Stressing people out has a negative effect on their immune systems, making them MORE vulnerable to the virus.

Get it?

Fix the town’s website so information is there and doesn’t require people to keep chasing links to eventually get to the information. That’s a positive step.

Perhaps it would be a good idea if the BOS went back to bi-weekly meetings.


2 resident April 1, 2020 at 6:56 PM

Just wondering why the Public Health Nurse is only working part-time in the middle of a pandemic.

“Spending most of her time following up on patients and contacts,” and not able to provide more detailed info about infections and age groups, etc. here in Southborough.

Can’t we find a way to add to her hours? or bring in more help to provide important pandemic info to residents in a timely fashion?

Thank you to Lisa Braccio for pointing out the info residents are receiving could be stepped up a lot.

How many people in Sbo have been tested? If a resident wants a test, who do they call to get it? Did the residents who tested positive travel? How serious are these cases?


3 David P Gould April 1, 2020 at 9:16 PM

Find money to pay the nurse during this vital time we need her help !!!!!!!!!!


4 Frank Crowell April 2, 2020 at 11:10 AM

Are there not a few school nurses who could help out…….I wonder.


5 beth April 2, 2020 at 11:14 AM

They are lined up to help if needed. By the way, I will be sharing in a separate story, school nurses have been tasked with a different duty. They’ve been riding school buses to deliver lunches to student each weekday. They also delivered online devices for remote learning.


6 profligate spending April 2, 2020 at 2:17 PM


Why would the school system be paying nurse’s salaries to people handing out bag lunches? Surely school nurses are exceedingly overqualified, not to mention overpaid, to be performing such a task.

Is this action being undertaken so that people are not being paid their full salaries simply to remain idle while the schools are closed? What about the teachers and administrative staff? Have they been receiving full salaries while the schools have been shuttered?

Are these constructive uses of the 70% of real estate taxes Southborough residents are paying, which goes to the school system?


7 beth April 2, 2020 at 2:38 PM

I presume that employees on contract are still paid even when the schools have to temporarily close. So putting them to use doesn’t seem to be a bad idea. I presumed that they were selected, since they are the most likely ones to be equipped to handle the interactions safely to avoid spreading the virus.

As for other staff – teachers are still working. They are involved in remote learning. And since school leadership and teachers are working, I would guess that administrative office staff also has work to do from home.

8 Interested April 2, 2020 at 4:01 PM

I feel that’s it important for the school nurses to stay visable to their students. Many of the students see the school nurse everyday and it’s probably a good idea for those students to remain in contact with the school nurse, for a number of reasons. School nurses are medical professionals, they know their kids, they know the needs and they can help out with all kinds of problems. I feel this is a very good use of the nurses’ abilities and skills. We are fortunate to have a nurse in each school building. Each one of them was a significant source of support for my son and if he were still a youngster, he would be much relieved to see her smile and wave hello to her everyday.

9 beth April 2, 2020 at 4:30 PM

I followed up to confirm that it was about safety. Wellness Coordinator Mary Ellen Duggan (who some of you might also recall used to be the Woodward School Nurse) responded:

Yes, as registered nurses, we are well versed in precautions needed to ensure safety and decrease the risk of spreading the virus.

This opportunity also gives the nurses a chance to check in on the well-being of those receiving lunches – ask if they are doing okay, if they need anything or have any questions (from >6 feet away – of course). It has been rewarding for the nurses as well as for the students to see a familiar face and connect from a distance. We are happy to be able to assist our community at this time. Please note, this is NOT the only thing the school nurses are busy doing during the school closure, but it is one of the more rewarding things.

If people have questions for the nurses they can go to the NS-BORO 2.0 site and click on the ASK the NURSE link. We’re happy to answer any questions. Promotion of the physical and emotional well-being of all of our community is at the heart of what we as school nurses do each and every day.

10 Matthew April 2, 2020 at 8:48 AM

I’m unclear on the Nurse’s schedule, is she already part time or has she been reduced to part time? Perhaps asking her what she can or would like to do is in order. If the work is there to do then someone ought to be doing it.

No reverse 911. It’s annoying and will likely provide general info oration available elsewhere. We also use out phone for a lot more things than when Reverse 911 was first implemented. No one like to be bothered by unwanted calls. Is opt out available? Sign me up for opt out!

The Town website is not where I go info. Even the “…most current updates” page is not intuitive. The list of updates are not clickable! They should be links, instead below is a list of pds’s that are named poorly. When we know the category of a list of documents then we skip including that category in the name. The date is now the most important, great that MOST use the YYMMDD format, and get rid of the word “update” from any title. The town has no document naming standard? All eyes are on you, time to follow the standards your IT department has been telling you about! I can go on but my point should be clear.
Saying it’s “a work in progress’” seems to be acceptable in the public sector so forgive me if I am too critical.


11 beth April 2, 2020 at 9:36 AM

1. The Nurse position is a part-time one. I don’t know what hours she is currently working, and they may be well above and beyond her norm. As I posted in prior stories, she has also been assisted by her incoming replacement. Plus, school nurses are lined up to help if the number of cases and contacts to monitor gets too large. (I think Purple’s mention of the part-time was to indicate that he didn’t want to put too much on her plate by requiring her to research data not being provided to her.)

2. To clarify, the “work in progress” refers to the page they have yet to launch – not the page you are referring to.


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