October 14, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
Hingham has moved into the high-risk "red" zone from the "yellow" category since last week.
Today's Massachusetts Department of Public Health statistics -- released every Wednesday -- show 19 new COVID-19 cases since Oct. 7 and a case count of 33 in the last 14 days. This brings the number of Hingham COVID-19 cases to 371 since Jan. 1.
Last Wednesday, Oct. 7, the MDPH reported 352 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hingham since Jan. 1, with an increase of 14 cases over the previous week.
Supt. of Schools Paul Austin told the Hingham Anchor in response to an email that Hingham Public Schools officials "are monitoring this situation closely and will work with the Board of Health to determine if or when changes to our in-person learning should be considered. At this time, we are maintaining the current program delivery model. I encourage everyone to follow Center for Disease Control and MDPH guidance to ensure that we all remain as safe as possible."
Austin shared a couple of health metrics charts from the HPS website. "While the town health metrics are an important indicator for the overall spread of COVID-19 in Hingham, we look specifically at the number of students and staff associated with the schools who have tested positive," Austin explained.
As seen in the charts, the trend in the HPS is increasing, but the good news is that there has not been one COVID-19 case in the schools that Austin is aware of in which a student or staff member has spread the virus to another student or member of the staff.
"As the Board of Health indicated [in comments included in today's earlier Hingham Anchor COVID-19 update], the cases we are seeing in the school system are originating from outside the system," Austin said.
Here's the link to the earlier article: https://hinghamanchor.com/hingham-on-cusp-of-slipping-into-red-zone-with-spike-in-number-of-covid-19-team-sports-cases-2/
Austin noted that in the first four weeks since starting hybrid learning (a model that combines remote and in-person learning), a total of nine positive cases has been reported to school officials. These include two cases in the High School community, five cases in the Middle School community, and two cases among the four elementary schools.
"It appears that the safety protocols we put in place to reopen our schools have been effective in mitigating the spread of COVID in our school system," Austin said. "This is very good news, but I want to remind everyone that now is not the time to let our guard down. We must remain vigilant and adhere to all of the safety protocols that will enable us to continue to serve our children in the school setting."
After learning that Hingham is now in the "red" zone, Hingham High School Athletic Director Jim Quatromoni sent a letter to parents tonight, announcing the change and notifying them that this status immediately places sports events back to Step 1 of EEA (Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs) guidance, thereby reducing the outdoor event spectator capacity from 100 to 50.
As a result, until further notice, Hingham spectators may not attend away games. "We can continue to allow for attendance at home events through our lanyard system. To be clear, we will not allow visiting fans in Hingham, nor will Hingham fans be allowed access to away venues," Quatromoni said in the letter.
He urged parents and athletes to "promote vigilance" in adhering to COVID-19 precautions. "As a community, it is important that we reduce these numbers and get out of the 'red' zone. In the meantime, this status will not further affect your son or daughter's athletic experience," Quatromoni stated.
More information is expected tomorrow from the Town Administrator's office and the Health Department.