A new coronavirus testing site at the Hull Manet Community Health Center is now offering tests for members of the community, by appointment, on Wednesdays, from noon to 4 p.m.
During a COVID-19 update at the first School Committee meeting of the new year, School Superintendent Judith Kuehn shared the news with members.
“During the summer, when we were developing our school reopening plan, the Board of Health, our school nurses, and myself started consulting with Manet about opening a testing center here in town,” she said. “There was a good turnout last week [when the testing first began]. I’m excited!”
Kuehn explained that the cost of the tests is normally covered by insurance for those who are symptomatic; appointments are not available for those seeking tests related to COVID-19 travel guidelines. (To schedule an appointment at Manet, located at 180 George Washington Blvd., visit manetchc.org.)
Efforts to resume full in-person learning for grades six through 12 remain a priority, depending on health metrics and space and social distancing considerations.
Jacobs Elementary School has been in-person full- time since the schools reopened in mid-September. The other grades are engaged in the hybrid model, which is a combination of remote and in-person learning.
Currently, the plan is to bring eighth-grade middle schoolers back to in-person learning first on Feb. 1, potentially followed by sixth- and seventh-graders, depending on health metrics.
Hull High School Principal Nicole Nosek outlined a plan to expand the number of students who are on individual education programs (IEP) and in school full-time, who administrators say need the most support, followed by students not on IEPs, but who are also struggling, if deemed safe to do so.
Hull High School went remote after eight virus cases were reported between Jan. 4 and 8, Kuehn said. “We don’t believe they were due to school transmissions, but we thought it best [to go remote] until Jan. 21,” she said.
“We remain in consultation with our school nurses and Board of Health, watching the data carefully.”
School Committee member Stephanie Peters advocated several times for “doing everything we can to get all the grades back to school full-time, especially high school seniors. We have the space.”
She noted that the decision to cancel winter sports was based on making academics the priority and that “this would be a good place to start.”
“We’re on it,” Kuehn responded.
Nosek said school administrators “are working hard” to return as many students to full in-person learning as possible. “It’s a complicated process, but seniors are definitely a top priority. We’re already in talks about how we can give them a senior year” to remember.
Committee member David Twombly urged proceeding with caution in bringing more students back to full in-person learning, “moving slowly and methodically.”
He noted that when warmer weather arrives, there will be opportunities for outdoor learning, “even if we have to rent tents.”
The HHS intramural program, organized by athletic director Scott Paine following the cancellation of winter sports due to COVID-19 considerations, was in place for only one day before the decision to go to remote learning through Jan. 20 was made. “If the COVID-19 numbers look good, we hope intramurals can resume on Jan. 21,” Kuehn said.
HHS Assistant Principal Daniel Mastrogiacomo reported that on the first day of intramurals a number of students used the fitness center, while 17 young women participated in the girls’ basketball program and 17 young men in boys’ basketball, with coaches present. “We had a great turnout,” he said.
When intramural sports resume, they will be offered four days a week. The fitness center will be open for student workouts on those same days and also on Saturdays, from 9-10:30 a.m.
A variety of intramural activities will be offered each week, including volleyball, kickball, and floor hockey. Mastrogiacomo said when the weather gets milder even more activities can be offered to help students remain active and in a positive frame of mind and “to soak up the sun as often as they can.”
Kuehn went on to say that the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine “gives us hope.” The vaccine is being administered to first responders and school nurses who want it starting this week. “The vaccine will be available for teachers around February through April,” she added.
In other business at the meeting, Kuehn shared her goals, some already achieved, with the committee. They include negotiating and implementing a memorandum of understanding for the reopening of the town’s public schools with the Hull Teachers Association and creating health and safety protocols for students and staff; tracking and applying for reimbursement of virus-related expenses; establishing a fiscal 2022 school budget timeline, reviewing with the leadership team each contract to help determine the district’s needs, and meeting with each bargaining unit until an agreement is reached; and strengthening the use of data across the district to inform decision-making that supports the district’s 2019-2025 strategic plan.