Wildcat Weekly Wellness Newsletter

12/06- News from the School Nurse Leader, Rebecca McCaffrey

My Contact Info:

978-632-4158 x 1



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If you can't make it on 12/7/20, there is also free testing on the following dates at the following locations:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 9 @ Market Basket Parking Lot, Athol (10 AM- 4PM)
  • Thursday, Dec 10 @ Coggshall Park, Fitchburg (10AM-4PM) click for flyer


GHS -5





GPS total cases of student (hybrid model only) and staff = 23

*Cases are reported to DESE by the School Nurse Leader. The DESE reports do not show our cases. All cases have been reported to DESE. When reporting the cases, they ask for:

1. student or staff member

2. what grade level

3. what school

4. if the student or staff member has been in the building in the last 7 days (if the student or staff member has not been in the building in the last 7 days, those cases do not appear on the DESE report)


The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Community-Level Data has Gardner as "RED". There is an outbreak of COVID-19 at the North Central Correctional Institution located in Gardner. Many of the inmates have tested positive, which is impacting the case count and positivity rate for Gardner.

Here is the state's link to see the most recent data for Gardner as well as all cities/towns in MA. https://www.mass.gov/doc/weekly-covid-19-public-health-report-december-3-2020/download

What does the Safety Committee review for data each week?

Click here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jIme3mhGajSg-to see the Gardner Public Schools COVID-19 DATA TRACKING GRAPHS with the STATE, COMMUNITY, and SCHOOL DATA that we look at weekly. We break down the school data by building as well to look and see if there are any concerning trends specific to one school building:

*Important to note is that week to week positive cases stay on the graphs unless they have been cleared from isolation. It is possible for a positive individual to stay on the graph for several weeks. The graphs represent what is actively current on the day that the data is shared. So, if you count the positive cases each week on the graphs, the number will not total the number of individuals that have tested positive total.

Question and Answer

Q-Why hasn't GPS considered moving to remote learning with the increased cases of COVID-19 and the expectation of additional increases during the holiday season?

A-This has always been a consideration since COVID-19. The district has been watching the data closely and we are prepared to make a decision to go remote immediately if necessary. The Safety Committee reviews state, community, and school data every Thursday and as needed. The Core Advisory Members are comprised of those with medical background. Those members make recommendations to the Superintendent on any changes in learning models, protocols, and procedures. The Superintendent further makes his recommendation to the School Committee. The state data on school transmission supports that with our protocols for masking, social distancing, handwashing/hand sanitizing, and cleaning and disinfecting, school transmission is rare. We also know that many students struggle with remote learning and that parents struggle to work and support their families while assisting their children with remote learning. We understand that more students are changing to the remote model and we support their decision. Many of our parents may not be able to support their family and also take care of their children's needs at home without school being open. With no evidence of school transmission, we are continuing our hybrid model with a very close eye on all the data we track and the knowledge that with a robust remote learning model we can change immediately if needed.

Q-What is the process for contact tracing when a student or staff tests positive?

A-Staff-When a staff member tests positive,

  1. Discussion between Nurse Leader and staff member

  2. Determine when the staff became contagious with COVID-19 (day that symptoms started OR the day of their positive test, then go back 48 hours)

  3. Determine if the staff was in a school building while contagious

  4. Identify close contacts (defined as within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer over 24 hours)

    1. Speak to the positive staff member

    2. Review the Sign in/Sign out Sheet

    3. Speak to identified close contacts and any staff with concerns about possible exposure and determine if they should be quarantined

  5. If there is a question about whether someone is a close contact or not, we err on the side of caution

A-Student-When a student tests positive,

  1. Discussion with the student’s parent and the student when appropriate

  2. Determine when the student became contagious with COVID-19 (day that symptoms started OR the day of their positive test, THEN go back 48 hours)

  3. Determine when the student’s last day of school was (by asking parent and verifying by looking at school attendance)

  4. Determine if student was in school while contagious

  5. If student was in school while contagious, trace all contacts at the school

    1. Talk to homeroom teacher and other support staff

    2. At the secondary level, the student’s schedule is reviewed and all teachers are called to determine any close contact.

    3. Review the classroom seating chart and speak to the teacher(s) about students who may have been in close contact with the positive student.

    4. Review the Sign In/Sign out Sheet

    5. Identify additional classrooms or groups the student might have attended

    6. Determine if the student rode the bus when contagious

    7. Speak to identified close contacts and determine if they should be quarantined

  6. If there is a question about whether someone is a close contact or not, we err on the side of caution

All staff should be using the Sign In/Sign Out Sheets when entering/exiting any spaces where they do not typically work in. This is a useful tool when we contact trace to be able to identify individuals that worked with a student or in a classroom. Even when taking a student out of a room the sheet should be utilized for that purpose.

All staff should be reminded to socially distance from students as much as possible. Working with students in close proximity is necessary at times, especially with our younger students. Staff should try to avoid close contact with other staff members as much as possible. There is little reason for staff to need to be within 6 feet of other staff members for 15 minutes or more during the school day. Keep all seating spaces 6 feet apart.


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