Nearly 50 test positive for Covid in first weeks of new school year
Just a few weeks into the new academic year, Covid-19 cases have already started to pop up in Dartmouth’s schools.
According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford, the district has had 47 positive cases reported since classes began on Sept. 1.
As of Sept. 16, the state reports eight new cases in the district — five students and two staff members. Numbers were recorded between Sept. 13 and 15.
“Since that time we have [had] one additional positive case,” Gifford noted.
Individuals who present symptoms while at school will undergo symptomatic testing, while any consenting close contacts will go through the district’s new “Test and Stay’’ program.
Gifford noted that the district is planning on beginning the program for middle and high school on Monday, Sept. 20.
Shallow nasal swab samples are collected from these individuals at school. Students who test positive, along with any close contacts, are sent home.
Students who show symptoms at home are also urged to stay home.
Testing is administered daily for at least five days. Parental permission is required before students can be tested.
If a student cannot attend class, there will be no remote learning option this year.
Instead, Gifford noted at an Aug. 23 School Committee meeting, teachers will work with these students much as they do with other students who have to be absent for medical reasons to ensure they maintain their academic work as much as possible.
People aged 12 or older who live, work or study in Massachusetts are eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Those over the age of 18 can sign up to receive any vaccine, but those ages 12 to 17 can only get the Pfizer vaccine.
According to state data, 55% of Dartmouth students ages 12-15 and 32% of those ages 16 to 19 have gotten at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
As of Sept. 16, the state reports that 57% of Dartmouth residents have received at least a first vaccination dose. That amounts to 21,153 people.
More than half of all residents — 52% — are fully vaccinated against the virus. Appointments and walk-ins remain available at the former Circuit City Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. To schedule an appointment, visit vaxfinder.mass.gov.
The state has also set up a call center for those who are unable to access the vaccine appointment website or who have trouble navigating the complex online system.
Residents can also get a shot at CVS at 548 Dartmouth St. , Stop & Shop at 25 Faunce Corner Road, and at Southcoast Health clinics or its wellness van.
Those with compromised immune systems can receive a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine through Southcoast Health.
Third doses are offered at 49 State Road in Dartmouth on Wednesdays. Patients can also get a dose at Truesdale Health on President Avenue in Fall River on Tuesdays, and Rosebrook Southcoast Physician Services on Rosebrook Way in Wareham on Thursdays.
Immunocompromised residents interested in getting their third shot can sign up through their MyChart account or by visiting www.southcoast.org/covid-19-vaccine-scheduling.
Children under 12 are still ineligible for a Covid vaccination, and there is no vaccination mandate in place for teachers or students.
People inside the schools — students and staff alike — are required to wear masks when inside, unless they are eating or drinking.