The following is from Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay. It was issued to parents on September 19. SOURCE is republishing as a community service. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Government
FRAMINGHAM – Many of you have expressed concern and frustration over the decision to restrict outdoor recess until further notice.
Please know that this decision was made in an effort to minimize exposure to Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) for our students and staff given that the threat of this virus remains at a “critical” level in Framingham.
On September 17, 2019, I had the opportunity to meet with the Lt. Governor, state and municipal leaders, environmental specialists, mosquito control specialists, Directors of Public Health, and physicians who have treated encephalitis, among others, to discuss the EEE outbreak and to get further guidance on how to proceed with the restrictions that are currently in place.
Following a very informative session on this matter at MetroWest Medical Center – Framingham Union Hospital Campus, Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, stated that she would be providing communities with “best practice recommendations” as the State works with local communities to address various levels of threat and where restrictions may be inconsistent.
While the hours between dusk and dawn pose the greatest threat, a daytime threat nevertheless exists given heavily wooded and wet areas around many of our schools.
“Opt-out” provisions for students, as some districts have implemented, are divisive for students, extraordinarily difficult to manage for our administrators, and impose unnecessary risk to our staff who would be assigned outside to supervise those students who have opted-out.
In consideration of the risk level in Framingham which has remained at “critical,” I will continue to insist that recess or physical education classes scheduled during the school day remain indoors until I have clearance from the Framingham Department of Public Health.
I expect that once we have our first overnight hard frost (a freeze that occurs when the air temperature is at or below 28 degrees Fahrenheit for at least four consecutive hours), we can safely resume outdoor activities that typically take place during the school day.
I encourage families to dress children in long pants/long sleeves and to use non-aerosol repellent at home, before they leave for school, as a preventative measure while waiting for the school bus or participating in elective activities (e.g., after school sports, etc.) that extend beyond the school day.
Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation with this difficult decision.