WPS Sends Test Kits Home, Waits for Mask Update

The Winthrop School Committee met on Monday, Feb. 7, where it discussed the change in COVID protocols in the district.

Schools have rolled out the new testing protocol, which involves sending students and staff home with at-home test kits. The expectation is that both staff and students will take these tests weekly and report their findings back to the school.

The program is optional, and parents can sign up on the WPS website. The new method replaces test-and-stay and contact tracing, which were becoming unmanageable. However, schools can resume contact tracing if they feel it’s necessary.

The district is still gathering information on student vaccinations and urges parents to update their child’s vaccination status, either on the WPS website or to school nurses. So far, only 32 percent of students are reported vaccinated. According to state rules, the district will have to reach 80 percent before it can make mask-wearing optional for the vaccinated.

Students are currently required to wear masks in schools until Feb. 28.

“We don’t know exactly what to expect. Based on changes in recommendations and movements in other communities, it is possible that the full mandate will be lifted, but they may require students who have not been vaccinated to wear masks,” said School Committee Chair Jen Powell. “We want to protect our students, but we recognize the challenges they have faced in wearing masks, and we want to be able to adapt to policy changes quickly. So we urge parents to have students get vaccinated and to report that to the schools. This information is kept strictly confidential.”

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