HomeCOVID-19COVID-19: Virus Under Control at Town's Public Schools

COVID-19: Virus Under Control at Town’s Public Schools

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“Virtually negligible,” that’s how Superintendent Bill Olsen characterized the number of transmissions occurring inside the town’s nine school buildings.

Olsen made a guest appearance at the Dec. 14th Board of Health meeting to discuss how the COVID virus is impacting the school system. His presentation came two days after Town Manager Jodi Ross announced that Westford had slipped into RED status signaling severe uncontrolled community transmission of the virus.

In a Facebook announcement released in the late morning of Dec. 12, Ross stated, “Our positive case count has risen fairly dramatically since the end of November.”

According to Health Director Jeff Stephens, who spoke with WestfordCAT production Coordinator Patty Stocker, “Percent positivity has gone up 6.5 percent,” Stephens said. But he stressed the number referred only to those who got tested for the virus and were found to be COVID positive.  The data pool consisted of 146 people out of 2,246, Stephens added, and did not involve the entire town population of approximately 24,000.

Despite the town’s RED status, the nine public schools appear to be containing the viral transmission, according to Olsen.

Below is a transcript of his presentation:

We currently have 27 students throughout the school system who have tested positive.

That’s .57 percent of our student population. We have 10 staff members who have tested positive.

That’s 2.1 percent of our staffing. In terms of close contacts, we have 123 students who have been considered close contacts. That’s 2.6 percent of our students. 

And we have 19 staff members who have been considered close contacts. That’s 4 percent of our staff.

I think the inclination of many people in terms of hearing headlines seeing what’s happening all around us in terms of the escalation of cases immediately default to ‘well, we need to go remote.’ But the data doesn’t necessarily indicate that.

We need to continue with the cleaning and disinfecting, certainly.

But the incidence of cases is focused at Westford Academy where there’s 13 positive students out of 1,650 students.

The close contacts are clustered at Westford Academy. They’re 46…There are 19 close contacts at the Day (elementary school) and there are 25 close contacts at the Nabnasset (elementary school).

About 16 of those 25 are preschool classes that we decided out of caution, we would consider close contacts and we would quarantine them.

So the numbers throughout our school system, quite honestly are still relatively low. We don’t want any cases obviously but as Sue (Hanly, Board of Health member) has indicated, the transmission in our school system is virtually negligible.

“It’s all happening coming in from the outside.”

Everett V. “Bill” Olsen, Jr., Superintendent