COVID-19 Information & Updates

Updates

As we continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation, this page will provide you district updates and links to helpful information and resources. Please be sure to check back regularly!

To view the full dashboard, use the scroll bar at the bottom to scroll over and view all schools.

Important COVID-19 Update for Mohawk Trail Regional School Grades 7–12

Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), as agents to the Buckland Board of Health, is issuing a mask requirement for Mohawk Trail Regional School (MTRS) beginning on Wednesday, May 11 to be reassessed on Friday, May 20.

  • Starting on Wednesday, May 11 all students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear masks upon entering MTRS.
  • FRCOG will reassess the mask requirement on Friday, May 20.
  • Wednesday is an early release day. Student schedules will be adjusted to include mask breaks starting on Thursday, May 12.
  • As a reminder, masks must be worn on school buses at all times.
  • As much as possible, we will attempt to hold lunches and classroom activities outside.

We thank you in advance as we adjust and support our school community and navigate increased cases of COVID-19 in our school.

Mask Mandate Update

April 6, 2022

Due to the high number of COVID-19 cases at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School, masks are mandatory indoors again. Effective on April 7, all students and staff will be masking while indoors except when eating or drinking. Please send your student in a mask and with a few spares in their bag. Masks will likely be optional again after April break.

Updated Mask Procedures

March 10, 2022 

Last night the Mohawk Trail Regional School District school committee voted unanimously to lift the mask procedures in our schools in accordance with our local Boards of Health (BOH) and guidance and information from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), effective Monday, March 14.

What does this mean?
On March 14, mask wearing in our school buildings will be optional for all staff and students in our school buildings. However, our local Boards of Health strongly recommend the continued use of masks preferably N95, KN95, or KF94). The local BOHs will continue to monitor COVID-19 caseloads and status of variants locally, and the COVID-19 School Planning Task Force will continue to meet to review data and discuss the impact of COVID-19 on our district.

DESE continues to recommend that districts and schools adopt a layered approach to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in school settings. DESE and Massachusetts Department of Public Health continue to strongly urge all eligible individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and booster and continue to support schools with vaccination clinics. Vaccination is our primary mitigation strategy. If you have not yet received your vaccine, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Finder page to find a site closest to you. We will continue to implement our layered mitigation strategies including participation in the statewide COVID-19 testing program, encouraging good hand hygiene practices, and staying home when sick.

Additionally, as of March 14, masks will no longer be required on school buses, per the updated guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).

Throughout the pandemic we have focused on caring for others in all our school buildings. As we transition to optional mask wearing, we will continue to build upon our culture of caring and support all individuals in our school community who chose to continue wearing masks. Masks will remain available to anyone who wants or needs one while in our buildings.

What happens if we see COVID-19 caseloads spike?
If we should see a sharp rise in cases in our area, we can work with DESE to recommend a change to our mask procedures in response to the pandemic. However, if our local BOHs make any changes to their mask mandates, we must adhere to their guidance as our buildings fall under their purview.

Will there be changes in procedures for after school or athletics?
There will be no changes to our pool testing requirements for participating in any district after school or athletic programs. Only our mask procedures will change on March 14. Those who would like to participate in any district after school or athletic programs will be required to participate in the district’s pool testing program.

My child/ren aren’t currently signed-up for testing. Is it too late?
It’s not too late! If you have not yet signed your child/ren up to participate in any of our testing programs (pool, at-home, symptomatic in-school testing) and would like to, please contact our COVID-19 Nurse Leader Donna Weber via email.

As we have throughout this pandemic, we will continue to monitor, review, and assess the caseload data, science, and guidance provided to us to help keep our students, staff, and community safe. Information will continue to be available on our COVID-19 Information page on our district’s website, including caseload data and helpful information. And if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Please take a moment to read Superintendent Sheryl L. Stanton’s complete March 10, 2022, letter for more information.

COVID-19 School Planning Task Force - Virtual Town Hall

On Thursday, March 3 at 6:00 p.m., the COVID-19 school planning task force will meet with members from our local boards of health and medical community to gather information and discuss mask mandates across our community. This meeting will help the task force in gathering information and data to make recommendations regarding any potential changes. The meeting will be live-streamed via the district's Vimeo channel.

Please use this form to submit any questions you may have regarding COVID-19/caseloads/masking/etc. for our medical experts, board of health, or COVID-19 school planning task force members.

    MTRSD S'Update

    COVID-19 and Mask Mandate Updates for Schools

    Earlier this week, Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state would be lifting its mask mandate for schools starting February 28. However, the governor's lift on this mandate does not take precedent over the local town/city mask mandates that may still remain in effect.

    What does this mean?

    Cities and towns may still require indoor masking for their communities. Lifting the mask mandate in those cities and towns is up to their discretion and typically overseen by their local Boards of Health. Schools must abide by the guidelines set forth by their towns but may continue to mask if/when those city and town restrictions are also lifted. In the Mohawk Trail Regional School District, masking policies are overseen by our school committee, with guidance from our COVID-19 School Planning Task Force. Our current policy includes masking while indoors for the remainder of the school year.

    At this time, there will be no adjustments to our current masking procedures. Masking while indoors for all students, staff, and visitors will continue in all of our school buildings.

    The COVID-19 School Planning Task Force will continue to examine our COVID-19 caseload data. The task force this week recommended keeping masking in place and will monitor the COVID-19 case counts post-February break to determine the next steps in our mitigation strategies. As we have throughout this pandemic, we continue to use data, science, and the guidance of our experts at FRCOG, the local board of health, the Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make recommendations regarding our COVID-19 procedures.

    As we have seen with the Omicron variant, layering our mitigation strategies is essential when dealing with a highly contagious virus. Masking is just one of the ways in which we help to keep our students, staff, and community healthy and safe–which means more time learning, teaching, and growing! We will continue to follow our FAB FIVE and encourage you to sign-up for your COVID-19 vaccine or booster at any of the local free clinics available in the area.

    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Superintendent Stanton or our COVID-19 Nurse Leader Donna Weber.

    COVID-19 Testing and Updates from Nurse Leader Donna Weber

    The recent changes to our COVID-19 testing programs, in line with recommendations from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), offered through the Mohawk Trail Regional School District have now been instituted for both staff and students. As part of this change we have discontinued the test to stay program and replaced it with the opt-in home testing program.

    What does this mean?

    Families and staff have two opportunities for testing through the district:

    • At home antigen testing (testing on Saturday)
    • Weekly pooled testing (Tuesdays for the elementary schools and Wednesdays for Mohawk Trail Regional School)

    For families/staff who have enrolled in the opt-in home testing program: Every other week, the school will distribute a box of two rapid tests to each student. One of these rapid tests should be used each Saturday. Positive test results need to be reported to both the nurse leader, Donna Weber, and the school nurse. Negative results do not need to be reported. If you have not already opted into this program and would like to do so, please use the link below: Opt-in to at home testing program.

    Families/staff who have consented to the weekly Covid-19 surveillance “pool” testing program will continue to be tested at school weekly. This is the more sensitive PCR test. If you have not already consented into this program and would like to do so, please use the link below: Weekly pool testing program sign up (make sure the correct school is listed in step two).

    The district will no longer be able to rapid test students who are considered close contacts to a positive case at school. The reason for this is that every student now has the opportunity to test twice weekly, covering the recommended testing of every close contact at five to seven days after the exposure, no matter what the vaccination status.

    **Individuals who have tested positive will now be required to provide a negative antigen (rapid) test after their isolation and prior to returning to school. If finding an antigen test is a hardship for you, please contact your school nurse.**

    If you have any questions these programs changes, please contact Donna Weber via email.

    Save the Date - Vaccine Clinic Returns to MTRS!

    If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccine or booster or need your flu shot, mark your calendars! The FRCOG mobile vaccine clinic will be at Buckland/Shelburne Elementary School on Wednesday, May 11 from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m., Colrain Central Elementary School on Thursday, May 12 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., Gill Elementary School on Friday, May 13 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and Hawlemont Regional Elementary School on Wednesday, May 18 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

    You can also find additional information and vaccine clinics in Franklin County

    New At-Home Testing Program

    During the week of January 17, Governor Charlie Baker and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) shared new COVID-19 guidance for schools, giving districts the option to eliminate "test and stay" protocols and move to weekly at-home rapid antigen testing. After discussion with the COVID-19 School Planning Task Force and at the recommendation by our COVID-19 Nurse Leader Donna Weber regarding the benefits this new program will provide, we have made the decision to participate in the new at-home testing program.

    What does this mean? Districts that opt-in to this new program will be able to provide staff and students with two rapid antigen tests on a bi-weekly basis (one test for each week) to be conducted at home each Saturday. This allows staff and students to test at-home each Saturday to help identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. The program will begin on January 29 for staff and February 5 for students.

    In addition to the at-home program, we will continue with our pooled-testing program in the schools and symptomatic testing (for those who become symptomatic while in school). Together these mitigation strategies help us to better identify school community transmission and outbreaks, helping us to keep our schools healthier and safe by early detection.

    To participate in the at-home testing program, please fill out the home testing form.

    If you have not yet signed your child/ren up for pooled testing, but would like to, please fill out the pooled testing form

    With our shift to at-home testing in conjunction with our pooled testing program, we will no longer participate in the "test and stay" program. What we've learned through our participation in test and stay is that it was not effectively identifying positive cases during the "test and stay" window. Nurse Weber noted that in many cases, individuals were not showing up as COVID-19 positive until after the five-day window (often showing between days six and nine). With the shift to at-home testing combined with the ability to continue pooled testing and contact tracing, we feel these initiatives combined with our mitigation strategies will continue to help us navigate the ongoing pandemic.

    Please remember to practice all of our mitigation strategies in the FAB FIVE–get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster if you have not yet done so, wear your masks, practice physical distancing, wash your hands, and stay home when you are unwell. When we all do our part, we keep our schools healthy, safe, and open for learning. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or Nurse Weber.

    January 24, 2022 - Caregiver Letter

    January 21, 2022 - Staff Letter

    January 2022 Return to School

    At this point in time, we intend to return to school as planned on Monday, January 3. As we have been doing since the beginning of the pandemic, we continue to track positive cases of COVID-19 amongst our entire staff and school community. We have no plan to preemptively close school at this time, however, if we are unable to adequately staff our school buildings due to staff absences, we may have to close schools. There is always a concern that we will simply not have enough staff to safely open our schools. If you are a substitute or have been considering becoming one, now is a great time to reach out to your building principal! As with any potential school closure, please listen for our all call or watch the local news outlets and social media streams and website.

    Please continue to layer your mitigation strategies. The most important thing we can do is get vaccinated. In all our schools, we will continue to practice our fab five ... get vaccinated, wear your mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands often, and stay home if you’re not feeling well! In addition to these strategies, we are distributing KN95 masks and providing rapid test kits to all staff. While the original distribution of kits was meant for Sunday, January 2, we are awaiting final notification of availability. These test kits are not intended as a universal screen of all staff and will not alter our plan to open school on Monday, January 3.

    Please take a moment to read Superintendent Sheryl L. Stanton's complete letter regarding the January 3 return to school

    Athletics Update

    December 22, 2021

    Dear MTRS Community and Sports Fans!

    COVID-19 caseloads have drastically increased in Franklin County over the past month. With the new, highly transmissible Omicron variant, we will not allow spectators at our sporting events for the remainder of this week starting on Wednesday, December 22 and during vacation week. Over the next few weeks, we will continue to monitor regional and district caseloads and reassess the need for continuing with closed athletic events after the break.

    We want to remain vigilant in mitigating COVID-19 in our schools while still providing our students with the opportunity to play sports this season. While spectators bring wonderful energy and excitement to our sporting events, we need to be mindful of the impact outside spectators have on our entire community.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

    Sincerely,

    Sheryl Stanton
    Superintendent 
    Mohawk Trail/Hawlemont Regional School Districts

    VaxBus Clinics

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have unanimously approved and recommended the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine for children ages five through eighteen. This followed on the heels of the FDA approval.

    A vaccine bus clinic (VaxBus) is returning to Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School on Thursday, December 23 providing free vaccines and boosters for those who are eligible. You must pre-register for the clinic. Please sign up online.

    Registration is now open! If you have any questions about the VaxBus or COVID-19 vaccine, please reach out to COVID-19 Nurse Donna Weber.

    For more information, please see the VaxBus flyer.

    Abbott-BinaxNOW & Surveillance "Pool" Testing Program

    With the arrival of the more highly contagious Delta variant, the Mohawk Trail Regional School District’s position on pool testing has changed since last spring. This is due to the significant increase in transmissibility of the Delta variant, as well as the likelihood of vaccinated individuals being asymptomatic should they get COVID-19. In order to keep our school community healthy and safe, the COVID-19 School Planning Task Force and Administration determined pool testing would be another mitigation strategy to complement the FAB FIVE: vaccination; mask wearing; washing hands frequently; physical distancing; and staying home when unwell. MTRSD has been accepted into the state’s COVID-19 testing program including BinaxNOW and weekly surveillance “pool” testing program. The program is funded by the state at no cost to the district.

    The testing program will begin in late September once the district receives all necessary supplies. To implement the testing program, the following protocols were discussed and approved by the Mohawk Trail School Committee on September 8, 2021. Under the pool testing program:

    • Any MTRSD student or staff member may voluntarily elect to be tested weekly for COVID-19 using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) pooled testing procedures outlined below. A PCR test is a diagnostic test that determines if you are infected with COVID-19 by analyzing a sample to see if it contains genetic material from the virus.
    • Any MTRSD student or adult involved with district before- and after school programs, athletics, or extracurricular programming will be required to participate in the weekly testing program.

    Pool testing will be administered in school buildings. Under the surveillance pool testing protocol, MTRSD school nurses will administer the tests, which involve collecting anterior (shallow) nasal swab samples from a group (or “pool”) of six to ten individuals. These samples will be combined and sent to Cambridge Innovations Center Health (CIC), a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) contractor, to conduct the lab analysis. The PCR test results will be available for review by the District Nurse Leader within 24-48 hours.

    The Results: What Happens Next?

    If a pooled sample generates a positive result, each individual in the pool will have a second anterior nasal swab and a BinaxNOW test performed at the school.

    • If results from the second individual test are negative, the individual will continue to attend class or regular duties without any limitations.
    • If results from the second test are positive and the individual is a student, the student’s caregiver will be notified of the need for immediate pick-up.
    • If results from the second test are positive and the individual is a member of our district staff, the employee will be notified immediately and asked to leave the school building.

    The District Nurse Leader/COVID-19 nurse and/or the local Board of Health will contact the caregiver/individual to review isolation requirements for the positive person per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), and DESE policies.

    When a positive case is identified, contact tracing begins immediately to determine those deemed a “close contact.” Close contacts are defined as individuals who have been within six-feet of a COVID-19 positive person while indoors for a cumulative of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

    All close contacts who were exposed within the school community (at school, on a bus, etc.) are able to participate in the “TEST and STAY” protocols.

    What is “Test and Stay?”

    The Test and Stay program allows those who are identified as a “close contact” and exposed within the school community (students, staff, coaches) to test immediately for COVID-19 using the BinaxNOW antigen test. Testing is conducted by the school nurse upon their arrival at school each day for one week (seven consecutive days). BinaxNOW test results are available within 15 minutes.

    If the person deemed as a close contact remains asymptomatic and continues to test negative daily, they may continue performing and participating in regular school activities. This allows for a safe way to monitor close contacts and increase time in the classroom.

    If you have any questions surrounding the process, procedure, or need additional information, please reach out to our district Nurse Leader Donna Weber or Superintendent Sheryl Stanton.

    Sign Up Online

    Select: Consent Now - Mohawk Trail - (select your school)

    For staff, coaches, or anyone over 18 years of age, please select “Sign consent form for yourself.”

    For caregivers who need to give consent for their child/ren, please select “Sign consent form for a minor.”

    If you are unable to complete the online sign-up/consent, please contact Donna Weber for a paper copy to complete.

    Virtual Town Hall

    The Mohawk Trail Regional School District's COVID-19 School Planning Task Force hosted a virtual town hall on Tuesday, August 17 via Vimeo to share updates and information regarding COVID-19 as we gear up for the 2021–2022 school year. During the meeting, Superintendent Stanton shared proposed updates to the district's mask policy and preparing for back to school. The MTRSD School Committee will host a special meeting this week to vote on proposed updates to the mask policy. Visit the SC Meeting page for the list of upcoming meeting dates, and see Superintendent Stanton's virtual town hall presentation slides for more information.

    If you missed the broadcast, you can watch below.

    August 17, 2021, Virtual Town Hall

    2021–2022 Draft Reopening Plan