Clustered cases at Wilton-Lyndeborough

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/9/2021 2:37:32 PM

The Wilton-Lyndeborough School Board called an emergency meeting Tuesday to address rising COVID-19 cases that broke out across the district over the weekend.

After five days of school, the district had 13 positive cases. “It just literally hit us over the weekend,” said Superintendent Peter Weaver. 

The cases are grouped, with clusters breaking out in specific classes at Florence Rideout Elementary School and in the middle school. Because of this, the Board voted to slightly amend their reopening framework, changing it to include guidance to allow for “targeted” mask mandates to address clusters like this. The district remains under Level 1 mitigation strategies, and the decision will be revisited at the next Board meeting so members can examine the district’s numbers again.

Despite these clusters of cases, Weaver said that the beginning of school has been a success.

“We’ve had an amazing start – really positive and engaging,” he said. “Students and staff are simply thrilled to be back together, especially under more normal circumstances.”

“We will always have issues arise with COVID,” Weaver added, “but we will deal with it as we continue to move forward as a District.”

Other local districts are about a week into school. Mascenic is also handling some COVID-19 cases, according to Superintendent Chris Martin, who said there were currently three active cases. This, she said, is within the district’s parameters for low transmission and therefore there won’t be changes to the district’s current mitigation strategies.

“We have no complaints here – everything is going as was anticipated,” Martin said. “We’re working hard to keep everybody safe and in school, and so far, so good.”

“There’s a lot of happy faces, teachers, everyone,” Martin added.

Mascenic High School math teacher Andy Helliesen spent the last school year teaching remotely while helping raise his newborn child; he also took a year off of coaching the soccer team after leading the Vikings to their first-ever championship game appearance in 2019. Now, he’s back on the sideline and back in the high school classroom.

“It definitely feels great to be back,” Helliesen said. “I'm really enjoying it...Being back in school, being back on the field is just night and day.”

ConVal also reported a smooth opening, according to Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders. “Across the district, we have had a very quiet opening,” she said. “Students and staff are happy to be back in person and we are all looking forward to a great year.”

Rizzo Saunders said the one exception to this was bussing, as the shortage of bus drivers has affected some students. She said that the district was confident that their bus company, Student Transportation of America, was “doing its best” to meet their needs.

Mason Elementary School principal Kristen Kivela also reported a good first few days. “They’ve gone great,” she said. “So far, so good.” 

“The kids are happy, excited to be back, and things feel pretty normal,” Kivela said. She added that the mitigation efforts in place, including lunches being held in class, three foot distancing, and being outside as much as possible, seem to be working.

The Jaffrey-Rindge district had its first day Tuesday after a week-long delay to clean up an outbreak of mold – district communications coordinator Nick Handy said that the first day went “great.”


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