COVID-19 Update from Superintendent Boyd (January 22, 2021)
January 22, 2021
Dear Lowell Public Schools Students, Families and Staff,
I hope this letter finds you safe and well. As we approach February 1 - the first of our targeted dates to begin having students return to in-person instruction - I wanted to provide you with the latest information related to COVID-19.
COVID-19 numbers here in Lowell remain relatively high, but have been declining over the past month. When we made the decision to have all students shift to remote learning starting the week before the holiday break, the COVID-19 numbers were spiking with an average daily incidence rate of 134.4 and a percent positivity rate of 12.33. According to this week’s report from the Commonwealth, the average daily incidence rate is now at 87.0 and the percent positivity rate is 10.15. The latest Lowell Public Schools specific COVID-19 updates can be found on the LPS COVID-19 Dashboard: https://www.lowell.k12.ma.us/coviddashboard. We encourage you to utilize this resource posted on our district website.
The School Committee will be meeting with the Board of Health on Monday, January 25 at 6:30pm to consider the current status of COVID-19 here in Lowell and the associated health risks as they relate to in-person learning. The School Committee previously established the following target dates for returning students to in-person learning, and Monday’s discussion will enable us to determine whether these dates remain feasible.
February 1 - Students in substantially separate special education programs who were previously participating in our in-person learning model
March 1 - Students, who are not in a substantially separate special education program, but were previously served in-person this school year as part of our original school reopening plan
April 1 - Expansion of our in-person learning model to include additional students beyond those who were assigned to in-person learning at the beginning of this school year
We will be sure to provide you with any updates to our learning plan that result from this meeting. You can watch the meeting on Channel 99 in Lowell or on the LTC website: www.ltc.org.
Lastly, we know there is a lot of interest surrounding the local rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. We are continuing to track those developments and will be updating you with more information as soon as it is available. While educators across the Commonwealth are scheduled for phase 2 of the vaccine rollout which should begin next month, the current vaccines in distribution are only authorized for individuals who are age 16 and up, so we are also studying the feasibility of utilizing state-sponsored pool testing for COVID-19 when more students are back on campus. We have applied to gain access to those tests on our campuses and will keep you up to date on those developments as well.
I remain thankful for your partnership and flexibility as we work through the continued uncertainty of this unprecedented health crisis.
Dr. Joel D. Boyd
Superintendent of Schools