The Wayland School Committee planned to discuss a possible travel order with the Board of Health this week regarding Wayland residents and workers returning from out-of-state travel, moving beyond Gov. Charlie Baker’s travel advisory.
“I do believe that it’s important that we convey a strong message that travel is something where you are exposed to places where you have less control over your surroundings and that we need to be careful and we need to test upon our return,” Superintendent Arthur Unobskey told the School Committee on March 24, “or we need to quarantine.”
School Committee member Kim Reichelt agreed with pursuing a Wayland travel order, noting that Wayland just had a higher 14-day average of COVID-19 infections than in the previous five weeks, despite the fact that many people have been vaccinated.
“So I think it’s really important that people continue to take this seriously,” Reichelt said, “and I think getting that directive would be a really good idea.”
Wayland elementary schools are expected to move from the hybrid model to full-time in-person learning starting April 5, and Wayland Middle and High schools are expected to transition on April 27.
“We’re very excited to have the kids return,” Unobskey told the School Committee. “Our students are eager to get back in and I think that’s wonderful.”
In regards to a comment from resident Alexia Obar on why Wayland Middle and High schools are not returning to full-time in-person learning sooner, Unobsey said the advice from the state is to bring back students in stages and “not to do it all at the same time.”
“I think this will help us figure out some things about traffic before we get this huge chunk of students in,” Unobskey said. “Our teachers will be more ready … I think that it will be worth it to stage it and that students’ experience will ultimately be better.”
As the kindergartners return to school five days a week, Unobskey said the potential for them to grow socially and emotionally is significant.
In addition to academic learning, Unobskey said kindergartners need to practice playing in small groups at recess and learn about sharing.
“We’re on track towards having everything not just ready, but ready in a really good way to welcome the first- through fifth-graders every day, and the kindergartners in for the fifth day,” said Assistant Superintendent Parry Graham.
Unobskey said parents, and Wayland commuters in general, will need to be patient with the traffic increase as the schools return to full in-person learning.
“(We) want people to be safe,” Unobskey said. “So please be patient. Please don’t try to push forward in the line because that’s how accidents can happen.”
While there are still about 20 open seats available on buses to Wayland Middle School, there are no buses to Wayland High School this year.
School Committee Chairwoman Jeanne Downs said the committee’s vote on the high school buses was “largely a financial decision” in order to have enough funding for COVID-19 safety protocols to bring students back to school buildings.
Unobskey planned to report to the School Committee this week on potential upcoming fees for pool testing for COVID-19.
“We’d love for there to be more participation,” Unobskey said of the pool testing.