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ASHLAND – Ashland Superintendent of Schools Jim Adams announced today, January 9, that starting this week, the public school district will not be contacting tracing for COVID cases and will stop the test and stay program.

SOURCE reported on Friday, that Ashland Public Schools reported 198 COVID-19 cases between December 23 and January 5, of which 31 cases were staff.

“Given the current surge, we cannot definitively track all close contacts,” said Supt. Adams. “Effective Monday, January 10, 2022, APS will no longer be conducting contact tracing or the “Test and Stay” program. It would be beneficial to consider all students as possible close contacts to COVID and monitor them for symptoms.”

There have been significant changes at the state and local levels concerning notifying and identifying close contacts. The state’s contact tracing unit, the CTC, closed on November 30,” said Adams in an email to parents. “Local health departments have transitioned the responsibility of notifying close contacts to the positive individuals themselves.”

Adams in an emails said the District had 114 positive student cases and 16 staff cases between January 3-8.

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“Our nursing staff and administrators have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to identify and notify those deemed “close contacts”,” said Superintendent Adams.

“We implemented the state’s “Test and Stay” protocol, which allows for testing of unvaccinated close contacts exposed in school only,” said Supt. Adams.

Although this was a useful mitigation strategy in previous months, the current surge of Omicron is proving this strategy to be ineffective at stopping the spread, as a large majority of students testing positive are vaccinated.

In the last 14 days, the Town of Ashland reported 389 new COVID cases, according to Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The rate of positivity over the last 14 days increased from 4.59% to 11.34%

Ashland to deal with this surge in cases has decided to limit access to municipal building, including Town Hall, the Community Center, and the Library.

Ashland is also asking businesses to required customers to wear masks indoors.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.