September 22, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
Hingham Executive Health Officer Susan Sarni has her eye on the expected reopening of the Hingham Public Schools next Monday with the hybrid model — a combination of in-person and remote learning — amidst the COVID-19 challenge.
“This is a community pandemic,” Sarni told the Hingham Anchor. “It’s not just about Supt. of Schools Paul Austin reopening the schools or me being strict with restaurants, or about where the cases are in town. It’s also about everyone taking this pandemic seriously, being cautious, and doing their part — abiding by social distancing guidelines, wearing face masks, washing their hands regularly, not being in contact for more than 15 minutes when not six feet apart, and watching for symptoms. This is a matter of public health and safety.”
Sarni went on to say, “We need to reopen the schools, but the number of Hingham numbers is increasing” — referring the the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Sept. 16 report of 16 new COVID-19 cases in Hingham as of that date.
Hingham is now in the moderate-risk yellow zone after being in the gray category (less than five reported cases within the last 14 days). Hingham has also been in the green zone, Sarni noted. Red is the highest-risk zone and green the lowest-risk. The new statistics for Hingham and other Massachusetts communities are available every Wednesday later in the day on the mass.gov website.
Sarni noted that social gatherings in a home or in an outdoor public setting can be COVID-19 “spreaders” if social distancing isn’t practiced and those in attendance don’t wear face masks. If someone participating in such a gathering tests positive, anyone who was there who was in “close contact” (within six feet for more than 15 minutes) would be required to quarantine for 14 days. “That’s when a community could go from yellow to red,” Sarni said. “It’s a matter of asking ourselves, ‘What can I do to help protect my neighbors so everyone can get a good education and enjoy our restaurants and beaches. That’s why it’s important to abide by social distancing and face mask guidelines. We’re now in the yellow zone, but if we don’t all do our part, things could be different.”
Sarni also weighed in with regard to concerns in the Hingham community that some colleges faced with COVID-19 strikes are sending students home even though public health officials warn that doing so could facilitate its spread.
“When students are sent home from college due to a large number of COVID-19 cases on campus, they are not required to quarantine,” she said. “It’s only when someone comes into close contact with a confirmed positive case that they must quarantine.”
Sarni noted that people “can’t test negative out of a quarantine.” That’s because it can take from between two to 14 days for symptoms to show up.
For further information, visit https://www.hingham-ma.gov/860/COVID-19-Updates.