Covid cases high in Wareham Schools

Dec 16, 2021

The Wareham Public Schools were 47th in the state for reported covid cases as of Dec. 8, reported Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood reported at the Dec. 15 School Committee meeting. 

Between Sept. 13 and Dec. 8, 168 students and 37 staff contracted covid-19. 

As of Dec. 15, the district reported that 33 students had tested positive during the week, along with six staff members. A total of 49 students were quarantined, along with two staff. That brings the total number of covid cases this school year among students to 201 with a total of 43 cases among staff.

“I would certainly urge people to practice preventative measures, make sure that they wear a mask and, if at all possible, get vaccinated, because we are seeing cases go up,” Shaver-Hood said. 

Meanwhile, the district’s test and stay program has tested about 130 students, all of whom stayed negative for covid. 

The test and stay program allows those who have been in close contact with someone who had covid while at school to stay in class while receiving daily rapid covid tests. The program tests students each day they are in school in the seven days following the exposure.

The test and stay program is only available for those who were exposed in school.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Andrea Schwamb said that the program started slow in October, but the number of in-school exposures — and number of students whose parents gave permission for the testing program — has recently increased.

“After the holiday, it seems to have picked up quite substantially,” Schwamb said. 

School Committee member Geoff Swett pointed out that none of the people exposed at school had tested positive. 

“Which, just in the simple sense, tells me the masks are working,” Swett said. “Because, presumably, if you have 200 people floating around infected, and we weren’t wearing masks, we’d have some transfer of the virus.”

Because people exposed to the virus outside of school are not eligible for test and stay, it’s up to parents to notify the school about outside exposures and keep kids home until it is safe for them to return to the classroom.

“I honestly think our parents have been fantastic at notifying us anytime they think something is amiss,” Schwamb said. “They’re not sending their kids to school if they feel that something is wrong overall.” 

School Committee member Apryl Rossi asked whether, given the high rate of covid within the schools and the town at large, the district could choose to have students study remotely for a period of time. Schwamb and Shaver-Hood agreed that the state sets a very, very high bar for allowing a district to make that choice.