Travel Policies & School Restrictions
March 11, 2020
Dear Hamilton-Wenham Families,
On Friday afternoon, March 6th, we participated in a conference call with the Commissioner of Education and the Department of Public Health (DPH). During the call, we were able to confirm the most current guidelines regarding school-sponsored travel. Last week, the Baker-Polito Administration urged all elementary and secondary schools (and all colleges and universities) to cancel international travel for the foreseeable future. There is no equivalent recommendation for domestic travel at this time. This is in line with previous guidance from the CDC for schools, colleges, and universities. In line with these recommendations, our Middle School Trip to Spain this April will be postponed.
On March 10th, Governor Baker announced new precautionary measures for Executive Branch employees in order to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This includes discontinuing all out-of-state work-related travel, canceling or virtually holding conferences, seminars, and other discretionary gatherings, informing employees not to attend external work-related conferences, seminars, or events, reminding employees feeling sick with fever or flu symptoms to not come into work, and encouraging high-risk employees to talk with their supervisors to review possible alternative work assignments.
In addition, the Commissioner of Education has sent a letter to all school Superintendents and Directors of Educational collaboratives urging us to cancel all out of state travel. In HWRSD this includes our upcoming scheduled trips to Disney and Nashville. We make decisions regarding later scheduled trips in the near future.
In accordance with CDC, DPH, and DESE recommendations, the district is reviewing all upcoming field trips to determine the risk level for student and staff exposure to COVID-19. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, the district is canceling and/or postponing all out-of-district trips scheduled between March 12 - April 3, 2020. We are currently assessing in-district large gatherings and community events. To date, we have canceled our Kindergarten Orientation and Parent Information Night (originally scheduled for 3/11/2020) and the League of Women Voters has postponed the Annual Civics Bee (originally scheduled for 3/12/2020). Further decisions will be made over the next day or two and will be dependent upon the potential risk to students and staff.
Please know that we continue to closely monitor the situation with guidance from local, state, and federal public health agencies and we encourage you to do the same.
We encourage all members of our school community to continue daily practices that can help prevent the spread of viral illnesses including:
Washing hands with soap and water, scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol - click here to view a brief handwashing video
Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces, including phones, tablets, keyboards, doorknobs, light switches, faucet handles, toilet flushes, countertops,
Avoid sharing personal items such as chapstick, water bottles, eating utensils, hand towels, etc..
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing and then wash hands
Community members should stay home and avoid contact with others when experiencing flu-like symptoms including a fever of 100.4 and should remain home until symptom-free and/or fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. Students in school who present with fever will be dismissed home to recover.
Now is an excellent time to develop a family preparedness action plan. In your planning please include how you will care for children if the illness lasts several days or in the event of a school closing. Please be sure we have current contact information so that we can reach you (click here for directions on how to update electronically). If you feel that you are often not immediately available, ensure you have listed an alternate person(s) who can dismiss your student if they become ill.
The district has activated our Emergency Response Team who will meet regularly to assess our district’s needs and adapt our Continuity of Operations Plan specific to this threat and in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH). As we continue to monitor this situation we are taking several steps including coordination with local, state, and federal agencies’ recommendations on best practices and routine daily cleaning of our buildings.
Julie R. Kukenberger, Ed. D.