Covid Update: State reassessed risk, District clarifies no testing out of Travel Quarantines, and ARHS campus mask rules

On Friday afternoon, the state released revised metrics for assessing community level risk. Southborough was one of the 121 communities that dropped out of the high risk category as a result. Currently, the Town is designated as low risk. Six new cases were confirmed in the past week, but only two patients remain in isolation.*

In news from the NSBORO School district, the latest dashboard is looking better than last week’s. Announcements from the district included a clarification around travel impacts and a reminder from Algonquin about mask wearing rules and protocols that extend beyond its building.

More details on all of that below.

State Reassessment of Community Risk

Past risk metrics were based on a single calculation applied to each town (new cases/14 days/100,000 people). For smaller towns like ours, that meant a few cases made the difference in moving from green to yellow to red.

The new metrics use three models of calculations based on categories of population size. As a town with under 10,000 residents, Southborough’s assessment metric is the simplest. Rather than a calculation, Southborough’s risk is now based on the actual number of new cases in a 14 day window:

  • 10 or fewer cases is grey (low risk)
  • 11-15 cases is green (low risk)
  • 16-25 cases is yellow (elevated risk)
  • and over 25 cases is red (high risk)

State Metrics of community risk levelThe state’s weekly report issued on Thursday put Southborough in the red. A revised version released on Friday shifted our Town to green and Northborough to yellow. (For some reason, the state had yet to revise it’s community level map as of this morning. So, it you check the state’s map, you would still see Southborough and many other area communities in red.)

As of this morning, no new cases have been confirmed in Town since November 5th.

Updated NSBORO Dashboard

The district’s dashboard issued on Sunday indicates there were no new cases confirmed in the district over the past week. A chart indicated that for the period ending last Friday, there were still four cases in isolation (three linked to Algonquin and one to a Northborough K-8). 

Nov 8 School dashboard page 1 Nov 8 School dashboard page 2

The number of students/staff quarantined due to in-school contacts is down to nine from 38 last week. [Note: Last week, I mis-described quarantines in the November 1st Dashboard, failing to notice that the district switched up their color coding in the bar charts.**]

NSBORO – Travel Restrictions

The Northborough-Southborough public schools issued a message stressing that students and staff can not test their way out of the 14 day Travel Quarantine. Leading up to Thanksgiving, the Superintendent sought to clarify that the district’s rules are stricter than the state’s: 

We realize the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ travel order allows for proof of a negative test within 72 hours of arrival in Massachusetts or a 14-day quarantine. The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough does not allow for testing out of the 14-day quarantine. The reason for this is when traveling outside of your home community to an area of higher community spread, your risk of coming in contact with COVID-19 increases. The incubation period after exposure to the virus is from 2 – 14 days. By enforcing the 14-day quarantine for travel outside of the lower risk states, we are promoting a lower risk environment for our in-school students and staff.

Based on the state’s list of lower risk regions, that means families can only travel to the following seven locations out-of-state without a required 2 weeks of remote-only learning upon return: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Washington state, and Washington D.C.. (Meanwhile, some of those areas may have their own restrictions for Mass travelers. I know Maine does.)

Algonquin Mask Rules

In a message last week, ARHS Principal Sean Bevan asked parents to reinforce the school’s safety guidelines for students driving and carpooling to/from school:

Reminder about mask compliance, incl. in parking lots: Today, I reminded students over the PA system that they must wear their masks at all times when on campus, including in the parking lot. Additionally, I noted that students who carpool to school should wear masks when doing so. Any help you can provide in reiterating these messages would be much appreciated.

*If you’d like a better understanding of how the numbers of new cases sometimes go up as the number in isolation remain steady or go down, you can read an explanation from Southborough’s Public Health Nurse in a prior post here.

**Not noticing a change to the Dasbhoard chart’s key last week, I wrote that ARHS had 20 students/staff in Quarantine due to school contact. It was actually only five, while the number in Southborough K-8 and Pre-K was 28.

In the seven school dashboards issued from October 1st to October 3oth, the number of students/staff in Quarantine due to “Contact Home” was indicated by green and “Contact School” was orange. Last week, the district revamped the chart. In the new version, Green represents the number in Quarantine due to “Close Contact School” and a shade of yellow-orange now represents “Close Contact Home”. Quarantine due to travel changed from yellow to blue, and “Referred for Testing” (which had been blue) was dropped from the chart.

 NSBORO covid data Dashboard Oct 31 - pg 2

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