Opening school during the COVID-19 pandemic has required communication, collaboration, and cooperation.
This has especially been true in the administration of COVID-19 testing at the high school.
“[The ongoing testing and the baseline testing] is an incredible amount of work, and it came from volunteers in the community, it came from the school department, it came from multiple organizations or organizations for funding, like the Wellesley Education Foundation, and all the volunteers that make up that organization. We are very fortunate to have some tremendous thinkers in the field,” said Dr. Jamie Chisum, high school principal.
Through the help of the community, the high school was able to set up baseline testing for teachers and students in time for the beginning of the hybrid model on October 1.
“The baseline testing which took place the weekend before we opened, was incredible. Again, that is an incredible amount of work and that was almost all volunteers. We worked with the police department, and we had to move it at the last minute because they determined based on the numbers of people signing up that we couldn’t use our original location as it wouldn’t be safe…So we readjusted the plans and moved it to the high school, which worked fine. I worked with the custodial staff, so there was a tremendous undertaking, which continues,” said Chisum.
As the school year continues, COVID testing continues. Students are offered a PCR saliva test. First, they register their collection tube, then they will collect their saliva samples before eating and brushing their teeth, and turn the sample on that same day. More information can be found on the Wellesley Public School website under viral testing.
“We continue to do surveillance testing. It’s not required, but we’re trying to urge all the students and staff to do it, because the more people that do it, the safer that we believe will be. Once we know someone who may be symptomatic is testing positive, we can limit their exposure to other people and anybody that has close contact with us and we can insulate it. That’s what we know, from the CDC and other sources. That is the best way to contain and control the virus,” said Chisum.
The high school has become one of the few schools in the state of Massachusetts to provide regular testing for faculty, staff, and students.
“Honestly, I can’t tell you how thankful I am to be a part of a community that would do this. For my own health and well being, I’m tremendously thankful, but also as a professional. to work in a place that could coordinate such an effort, not just the finances, which are big. This, unfortunately, can’t happen just anywhere. But we were able to pull it off in this town, and I’m thankful for that,” said Chisum.