Andronico Seeks Update On Quincy’s ARPA Money

By SCOTT JACKSON

Ward 2 Councillor Anthony Andronico wants an update from city officials on how the federal stimulus funds Quincy received earlier this year have been spent to date, and also wants the administration to gather public input to determine how the remaining money should be used.

Mayor Thomas Koch in March announced Quincy would be receiving $46.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion federal bill signed into law earlier that month. Communities have until December 2024 to use their ARPA money on eligible initiatives.

In May, Koch announced the city would be using a portion of the city’s ARPA money and part of the $10.7 million earmarked for Quincy College – which was awarded separately from the funds the city itself received – to purchase the Munroe Building and a nearby parking lot in Quincy Center for $15 million.

Andronico will introduce a resolution seeking a full accounting of the city’s ARPA spending to date at Monday’s City Council meeting. The resolution also asks the administration to seek public input on how the remaining funds should be spent, using either an online survey or public hearings.

“The people of Quincy deserve an opportunity to provide direct input into how federal COVID-19 relief funds are spent,” Andronico said in a statement. “Although the Mayor’s Office has final say on how these funds are allocated, I believe the Administration should take the same steps followed by many other municipalities that have a mayoral form of government and solicit input from residents.

“To this point, the Council and the public have only been informed through the news of where federal relief funds are headed and an accounting update on remaining relief funds would allow the public to understand which shared priorities we may be able to invest in moving forward.”

In his resolution, Andronico wrote that “Fall River, Lowell, Newton, Pittsfield, Springfield, Weymouth and Worcester have either had public meetings or created online surveys for residents to submit feedback on how ARPA funds in their community should be spent.”

In addition, he noted the Quincy Public Schools “recently held an online information and feedback session to review with stakeholders potential plans for their Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Funds from the ARPA.”

Cahill Tops Ballot In School Committee Preliminary; O’Donnell Out Of Race

By SCOTT JACKSON

Making her first bid for elected office, Tina Cahill topped the field in Tuesday’s School Committee preliminary election.

The preliminary race featured seven candidates, the top six of whom advanced to the final election on Nov. 2. The three candidates with the most votes in November will win four-year terms on the committee.

Cahill, a Grenwold Road resident, garnered 2,330 votes en route to her first-place finish. Incumbent committee member Emily Lebo of Highland Avenue was second with 2,216 votes. Courtney Perdios, a Ruggles Street resident who in February was appointed to an open seat on the committee, finished third with 1,984 votes.

Placing fourth in the preliminary was political newcomer Liberty Schaaf of Howe Street, who netted 1,915 votes. Incumbent Douglas Gutro of Arnold Street came in fifth with 1,777 votes, and first-time candidate Liz Speakman of Merrymount Road finished in sixth place with 1,351 votes.

Finishing in seventh place, and eliminated from the race, was first-time candidate Ellen Patterson O’Donnell of Hatherly Road with 857 votes.

Cahill was the top vote getter in three of the city’s six wards, topping the ballot in Ward 5, where she resides, as well as Wards 4 and 6. Cahill finished second in Wards 2 and 3 and third in Ward 1.

Lebo was the top vote getter in Ward 3, her home ward. She finished second in Wards 1, 4, 5 and 6 and fourth in Ward 2.

Perdios topped the ballot in Ward 2, her home ward, and came in third in both Wards 3 and 6.

Schaaf was the top vote getter in Ward 1, her home district. She finished third in the voting in Ward 4.

Gutro was the third-highest vote getter in Ward 2, where he resides, and Ward 5, which he formerly represented on the City Council.

Speakman and O’Donnell polled sixth and seventh, respectively, in all six wards.

Turnout in the preliminary election was 8.11 percent, with 5,169 of the city’s 63,755 registered voters casting ballots. Ward 1 had the highest turnout in the city at 12.84 percent, followed by Ward 5 (9.44 percent), Ward 6 (8.47 percent), Ward 3 (7.57 percent), Ward 2 (6.03 percent) and Ward 4 (4.51 percent).

The Nov. 2 election will also feature four contested City Council races. All city councillors are elected to two-year terms.

Four candidates are running for the three at-large spots. All three incumbents – Noel DiBona of Chickatabot Road, Nina Liang of Grand View Avenue, and Anne Mahoney of 12 Ferriter Street – are seeking reelection. Joining them on the ballot is William Burke of Rice Road, who ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2018 and had run for Congress two years prior.

There will also be races for three of the six ward seats on the council.

In Ward 1, incumbent David McCarthy of Whitney Road will face off against Joseph Murphy of Macy Street. McCarthy, who formerly served on the School Committee, is seeking his third term on the council. This will be the third time McCarthy and Murphy have run against each other.

In Ward 2, incumbent Anthony Andronico of Endicott Street and Steven Perdios of Ruggles Street both qualified for the ballot. Andronico, who had been serving on the School Committee, was appointed to the Ward 2 seat in January following the resignation of longtime councillor Brad Croall. (Courtney and Steven Perdios are married, and this is believed to be the first time a wife and husband have both appeared on the ballot together in the city’s history.)

In Ward 5, incumbent Charles Phelan Jr. Fenno Street is opposed by Stephen Christo of Standish Avenue. The two ran against each other for an open seat in 2019.

The remaining incumbent councillors – Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain of Forbes Hill Road, Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci of Cross Street and Ward 6 Councillor William Harris of Ashworth Road – are running unopposed.

There is no mayoral election in Quincy this year. Mayor Thomas Koch was reelected to a four-year term in 2019.

The deadline to register to vote ahead of the final election is 8 p.m. on Oct. 13. The deadline to request to vote by mail in the final election is Oct. 27 and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon on Nov. 1.

Early voting will take place ahead Election Day from Oct. 25 through Oct. 29 at City Hall, 1305 Hancock St. Early voting will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on those dates.

Marshall School Student, Parent Struck By Car

A second grade student at the Clifford Marshall Elementary School and their parent sustained non-life-threatening injuries after being struck by a car Tuesday morning, school officials said.

“This morning, one of our Grade 2 students and their parent were struck by a car while walking to school,” the school’s principal, Nicholas Ahearn, said in a letter to the school community. “While the student and the parent sustained injuries, the injuries are reported to be non-life threatening and both have been transported to local hospitals.  I know the thoughts and support of the whole school community will be with them during their recovery.

“Our concern also extends to several students who were waiting at a nearby school bus stop and may have witnessed the accident.  School administrators and guidance staff have spoken with the students and contacted their parents.

“We have not shared this information with the other students at Clifford Marshall as this might be upsetting and cause unnecessary emotional distress.  As always, our administrative and guidance staff are available to assist you or your student if you are in need of any support.  Please feel free to reach out to me (nicholasahearn@quincypublicschools.com), Assistant Principal Heather Patch (heatherpatch@quincypublicschools.com), or Guidance Counselors Colleen Jackson (colleenjackson@quincypublicschools.com) or Deborah Parrish (deborahparrish@quincypublicschools.com) via email or at 617-984-872.”

Polls Open At 7 AM Tuesday In Quincy

By SCOTT JACKSON

Voters in Quincy will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots in the School Committee preliminary election.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and will remain open until 8 p.m. The same polling places used for last November’s presidential election will be used this fall.

Absentee and mail-in ballots must be received by the time polls close Tuesday to be counted.

The preliminary election features a seven-person race for three seats on the School Committee. The top six vote getters in the preliminary will advance to the final election in November.

The seven candidates running in the preliminary, by order of appearance on the ballot, are:

Emily Lebo, 354 Highland Ave; Ellen Patterson O’Donnell, 6 Hatherly Rd.; Courtney Perdios, 86 Ruggles St.; Liz Speakman, 129 Merrymount Rd.; Douglas Gutro, 85 Arnold St.; Liberty Schaaf, 28 Howe St.; and Tina Cahill, 51 Grenwold Rd.

Gutro, who previously served on the City Council, is concluding his first four-year term on the committee; Lebo has served ten years on the board; and Perdios was appointed to the committee in February to fill a vacant seat. Perdios had finished in fourth place in the 2019 school board election.

The remaining four candidates are all making their first bids for elected office. O’Donnell, Schaaf and Speakman had been nominated for the open seat Perdios was appointed to during the February joint convention.

The top six finishers in Tuesday’s preliminary will appear on the ballot on Election Day, Nov. 2. The top three vote getters in November will win four-year terms on the School Committee.

In addition to the School Committee race, the November election will also feature contested races for city councillor at-large and the Ward 1, 2 and 5 seats on the council. City councillors are all elected to two-year terms.

There is no mayoral election in Quincy this year. Mayor Thomas Koch was reelected to a new four-year term in 2019.

City Clerk Nicole Crispo is forecasting a turnout of 10 to 12 percent for the preliminary election. That would mean between 6,375 and 7,650 of the city’s 63,756 registered voters will have cast ballots by the times polls close.

FoxRock Unveils Ross Lot Development Plans

TWENTY-STORY building with a combined 325 hotel rooms and apartments is part of FoxRock Properties’ plan for the former Ross Lot in Quincy Center, along with a 150,000-square-foot office building and a 490-car garage. The new high-rise would be the tallest in Quincy, surpassing the 15-story Chestnut Place building on the Dennis Ryan Parkway elsewhere in the downtown district. This view is from Granite Street looking south; General McConville Way is to the left of the building in this picture and Burgin Parkway to the right. Renderings courtesy FoxRock Properties.

By SCOTT JACKSON

A Quincy-based company has unveiled formal plans to redevelop part of former Ross Lot in Quincy Center, including a 20-story tower housing a combined 325 hotel rooms and apartments, a 150,000-square-foot office building, a two-story building with a restaurant and other amenities, and a 490-car garage.

FoxRock Properties pitched the proposed redevelopment, known as SwitchPoint Quincy, to the Planning Board during its meeting on Sept. 8. FoxRock is seeking two separate approvals from the board; the first is a certificate of consistency for the overall project and the second is a special permit to build the hotel and residential structure 20 stories high.

The board did not vote on the proposal that evening and will take up the matter again on Nov. 10. It has not been determined whether November’s meeting will be held remotely like the Sept. 8 session was or in-person.

FoxRock’s development would be located at 37R and 86 Parkingway, which is within the former Ross Lot in Quincy Center. The roughly triangular parcel – which is bounded by General Dunford Drive to the south, Granite Street to the north, General McConville Way to the east and the MBTA tracks to the west – contains 117,366 square feet of land and is located within the Quincy Center Zoning District-15, where buildings can be constructed 15 stories tall by-right and 20 stories high with a special permit.

The developer hopes to begin construction on site in the spring of 2022 and complete the project by early 2024.

FoxRock and Mayor Thomas Koch had negotiated a land disposition agreement, which the City Council approved in June 2019, allowing the company to acquire that portion of the Ross Lot from the city and to redevelop it. That LDA also allowed the company to buy out the city’s right of reverter at 114 Whitwell St., formerly home to Quincy Medical Center, freeing it up for a residential redevelopment. The developer agreed to pay the city $4.25 million as part of the pact.

The new office building would be located at the south end of the parcel, abutting General Dunford Drive. The hotel and residential tower – which, at 20 stories, would be the tallest building in Quincy – would be located at the north end of the site, separated from Granite Street by a new outdoor amenity area. The garage would be located in between those two buildings sitting behind the two-story commercial building on General McConville Way. The office building and 20-story tower would both have retail space on the ground floor as well.

“The project aims to create a vibrant streetscape through programming active uses along the ground floor with both lobbies, retail spaces and a series of outdoor spaces of different scales and type,” Josh Kleinman, FoxRock’s director of design and construction, told the board.

“We’ve located loading docks and back-of-house facilities away from McConville Way to truly create a pedestrian-centric city block.”

David Bois, principal at the design firm Arrowstreet, the master planner for the project, said the various uses included in the proposal would create an active site.

“We’re really looking to create an active, 18-hour environment with office, retail, hotel and residential,” he said.

The 150,000-square-foot office building would be located at the corner of General Dunford Drive and General McConville Way. A FoxRock official told the Planning Board the building has been designed for medical use. The building would also include ground-floor retail space.

In February 2019, Koch announced that FoxRock had struck a deal with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and South Shore Health System, the parent organization of South Shore Hospital, to lease space within the proposed office building.

At the Sept. 8 board meeting, Kleinman said the office building had been designed for medical uses. Ed Hodges, principal at the architectural firm Dimella Shaffer, said the office building would have a “robust infrastructure to handle a variety of tenants that may come along.”

View of FoxRock’s proposed 20-story residential and hotel building as seen from Hancock Street. Mayor Thomas Koch unveiled plans for the new public park seen in the foreground earlier this year, along with the two buildings on either side of it.

The 20-story tower at the north end of the site would have 125 hotel rooms on the lower five floors and 200 apartments on the upper floors, with separate entrances for the hotel and the residences.

FoxRock’s initial plans for the Quincy Center site, as unveiled in 2019, included 110 units of workforce housing. Following the Sept. 8 meeting, a spokesperson for the company told The Sun “The project will have to go in front of the affordable housing trust which will determine the affordability requirements for the project.”

The garage, which will be located between the two larger buildings, would have space for 490 vehicles. FoxRock plans to include 20 charging stations for electric vehicles when the garage first opens, with capacity to add more charging stations in the future.

In addition to the 490 spaces FoxRock would construct in the garage, the city will set aside 300 spaces to the south of General Dunford Drive for the developer in accordance with the 2019 land disposition agreement. A new municipal garage has been proposed for that area to replace the garage formerly on the Ross Lot.

A 490-car garage is included in FoxRock’s proposal for the former Ross Lot, along with the two-story commercial building in front of it. The building would house a ground-floor restaurant with second-floor amenity spaces for the hotel next door.

A two-story commercial building would sit between the new garage and General McConville Way. Bois said the ground floor would house a 6,000-square-foot restaurant – with additional space for outdoor dining – and the second floor would feature amenity and meeting space for the hotel next door.

Karlis Skulte, the applicant’s engineer, said the city has upgraded utilities – such as sewer and water mains – in the vicinity of the former Ross Lot in recent years to prepare the area for future development.

“Throughout the years, McConville Way as well as this area have been redeveloped and the city has spent a good amount of time and energy into improving the utilities within McConville Way,” Skulte said.

“As a rule of thumb, we are tying into all of the utility services and the design elements that have been installed essentially to facilitate redevelopment in this parcel as well as others in the area.”

Members of the public were invited to comment on the project during the Sept. 8 meeting.

Greg Baryza, a resident of the nearby Cliveden Place development, said he was in favor of the proposal.

“I am not speaking to object to any of this stuff – as a matter of fact, I am in favor of it,” he said. “My wife and I sold our house in the suburbs of Boston. We decided to live in a downtown area, we wanted to live close to public transportation, and we didn’t mind being part of a development district.”

In a letter to the board, which was read into the record during the meeting, Baryza raised concerns about the impact construction nearby would have on his building. He said his building “experienced regular and significant shaking” when the buildings formerly on the Parkingway were demolished and new infrastructure was installed in the area.

“I submitted pictures of furniture that had moved as a result of the shaking, movies of water sloshing back and forth in bottles, and potted plants quivering from the vibrations. My wife’s antique glass collection was put at risk because pieces were sliding to the edge of shelves in their display case,” Baryza said. “This occurred periodically, often multiple times per day, multiple days per week, over the past two years.”

Matt Warner, a Bigelow Street resident, said that “development is a thing that is going to happen – it’s not a bad thing,” but added he was “a little bit surprised and disappointed” that FoxRock was proposing to construct a 20-story building on site rather than a 15-story one. Warner also questioned how people would be able to access the medical office building if they had to park in the 300 spaces the city would be providing on the opposite side of General Dunford Drive.

Ward 5 Councillor Charles Phelan Jr., in whose district the site is located, said the Planning Board should take steps to protect nearby residents from construction impacts as part of the permitting process.

“Whether it is noise mitigation, vibration mitigation, I’m not sure how you do that, but I think we have to take a look at that,” Phelan said.

“The residents, they are living there, they are going to be living there through this and this is a lot to go through. What I think is going to happen afterwards is they are going to have a beautiful backyard, but for now, the next couple of years when they are doing the development, we have to take them into consideration.”

Following the public comments, board chairperson Richard Meade said he and his fellow board members would need time to consider the application.

“I think we need some additional time obviously to get through the information to digest it. What I would suggest is that the board put this on its agenda for November – not October,” Meade said.“I’m not suggesting we’re going to be in a position to vote it up or down in November, but…we will have an opportunity to discuss it further and digest it a little more.”

David Mahoney, the attorney representing FoxRock at the hearing, said he agreed with the decision to schedule the matter for the November meeting.

QHS Class Of 1961 Holding 60th Reunion

Quincy High School – Class of 1961 – Reunion – 60 Years

     The “MAIN EVENT” – Saturday, September 18, 2021

              Luncheon 11:00-3:00 – $55 per attendee 

                  (Reservations required by Sept. 7th)

          The Tirrell Room, 254 Quarry Street, Quincy

Other events:  

> “Meet & Greet” ~ Friday, September 17th ~ 7:00 p.m. 

                                       Boston Marriott Quincy, 1000 Marriott Dr., Quincy

>  Tour ~ Our “Alma Mater” – Quincy High School  – Sat., Sept. 18th @ 9:30 a.m.

                                       (Questions – Mary Lou Petrelli @  mlpet1@verizon.net)

>  Impromptu Brunch (on your own) – Sun., Sept. 19th – 11:00 a.m.

                              The Tavern at Granite Links, 100 Quarry Hill Drive, Quincy

Reservations/Questions, please call Lois Casagrande AuCoin – 781-690-0949

Additional City Unions Ratify Contracts

Joining Quincy police and firefighters, hundreds of more city employees have agreed to a two-year contract that will provide a 3 percent raise effective immediately, Mayor Thomas Koch announced Monday.

Unions representing the city’s laborers, public building maintenance workers, librarians and city office clerical and administrative workers all voted to support the support the agreement that covers the fiscal year that began in July and the prior fiscal year, Koch said in a statement.  So far, all of the unions that have acted on the proposal from the Koch administration have approved it.  Police and firefighters approved the contract in late June.

The agreement purposely addressed no contractual provisions beyond the zero and 3-percent raise, other than it commits the Koch administration and the unions to begin negotiations for a longer, three-year contract as soon as possible.

“This agreement achieves two goals: It provides a real wage increase our employees deserve while at the same time reflects the very difficult previous year in which our primary goal was to ensure that we protected core services and our workforce – which we were able to do across the board,” Koch said.

“I’m grateful for the work of our employees on the day-to-day so many of whom truly stepped up and performed extraordinarily during one of the most challenging years in recent history.”

West Nile Virus Confirmed In Quincy, City Now At Moderate Risk

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Friday confirmed that West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected from Quincy.

There have been three West Nile virus-positive Culex pipiens/restuans complex mosquito pools identified from samples collected between July 21 and Aug. 17. Quincy’s risk level has been raised to moderate.

To date this year, the state has reported 68 WNV positive mosquito pools from 12 counties. No human cases have been reported.

While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection. WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. The city of Quincy Health Department and the state Department of Public Health recommend that the public continue to take action to avoid mosquito bites and reduce mosquito bites and reduce mosquito populations around their home.

Steps include:

• Limiting your time outdoors during peak periods of mosquito activity (dusk and dawn) or, if you must remain outdoors, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.

• Using mosquito repellent that contains DEET or Picaridin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus may also be considered. Products with permethrin should only be used on clothing. Follow directions on the label. Repellents should not be used on children younger than two months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

• Taking special care to cover up the arms and legs of children playing outdoors. When you bring a baby outdoors, cover the baby’s carriage or playpen with mosquito netting.

• Fixing any holes in your screens and make sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.

• Removing any standing water around your hone that is available for mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes will begin to breed in any puddle or standing water around your home that is available for mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes will begin to breed in any puddle or standing water that lasts for more than four days. Make sure water does not collect and stagnate in ceramic pots, trash cans, recycling containers, old tires, wading pools, bird baths, etc. Remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of roof gutters.

For more information visit quincyma.gov or mosquitoresults.com.

Quincy Schools Keeping Mask Mandate

By SCOTT JACKSON

Masks will continue to be required for Quincy Public Schools students and staff at the start of the new academic year next month.

The School Committee held a special meeting on Wednesday to review its policy on communicable diseases, including face coverings, ahead of the 2021-22 school year. The committee left in place its existing rules – first enacted prior to the 2020-21 school year – that mandate masks for all individuals in school buildings, on school grounds, and on school transportation, even when social distancing is observed, without taking a vote on the matter.

The state Department of Public Health and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in July issued updated mask guidance for the new school year, but Gov. Charlie Baker said local districts would be able to set their own policies. The state guidance recommends but does not require unvaccinated students and staff wear masks indoors while saying vaccinated students can go without them.

During Wednesday’s committee meeting, Supt. Kevin Mulvey said that while the state is giving districts the choice whether or not to mandate masks, additional guidance released by the state on Aug. 13 related to testing and quarantining of close contacts would be difficult to follow without a mask requirement in place.

“We received this latest guidance on Friday which essentially makes it very difficult for a district like Quincy or any other district to do anything else, in my opinion, other than mask and require masking,” Mulvey said.

“Logistically, it will be an absolute nightmare for us if we are quarantining potentially whole classrooms and students potentially on a consistent level…we could have a student or students quarantined several times within the year and it could last, depending on whether they want to get tested or not, anywhere between seven and ten days.”

In addition, only 500 of the 4,400 Quincy students currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine – which the federal government has authorized for anyone ages 12 and up – have gotten the vaccine, Mulvey said. Rita Bailey, the district’s health services coordinator, said that number is based on a state database the district has access to, and could be higher if pediatricians administered shots and did not enter them into the database.

The superintendent also noted about half of all students remained remote during the previous school year, while all students will be back in the classroom in the new school year.

“We are going to have all of our students back in the schools,” he said. “That full 4,400 students will be back in the schools, and only 500 are vaccinated.”

Bailey said she agreed that masks should be required at the start of the new school year because it will help keep students in the classroom.

“Because of the guidance we received from the Department of Public Health and DESE, the only way to keep students in school and prevent an interruption in learning, I think, is masks should be worn – at least at the start of the school year,” she stated.

“Now that distancing has been removed, I think we should see how that goes first, before we remove any other strategies. I think we mask now, and we evaluate.”

Quincy Health Commissioner Marli Caslli said he also agreed with keeping the mask mandate in place. Caslli said he had contacted more than 30 other local health departments. Of those departments he heard back from, 17 supported a mask mandate and nine others were leaning toward one.

“Every town and city is leaning toward a mask mandate and I feel very comfortable supporting Superintendent Mulvey with a mask mandate,” he said.

Caslli also noted COVID-19 cases in the city have increased since the start of the summer. There were fewer than 20 cases during the month of June, he said, compared to more than 190 cases during the first 18 days in August. Cases among children have also increased, from two in June to 27 this month.

“We are seeing an increase in cases in the city, not only for adults but even for kids,” he said.

Mayor Thomas Koch, the chairperson of the School Committee, said he had been leaning towards making masks optional but would support keeping the requirement to wear masks in place in light of the state testing and quarantine guidelines and the number of cases the city has seen in recent weeks.

“The most important thing to me is to get the kids back in the buildings, back in in-person learning. Based on those guidance…from DESE, it would be a logistical nightmare for our school system to deal with that,” Koch said. “We put enough burden on our administrators, principals, teachers and staff without that additional burden.”

The mayor added that he has no plans to impose a citywide mask mandate.

Committee member Paul Bregoli questioned the mask mandate. He said the World Health Organization does not recommend that children under the age of 5 wear masks and recommends minimizing the amount of time children between ages 6 and 11 wear masks.

Bregoli said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – which earlier this month recommended all students ages 2 and up wear masks in school – “is no longer a legitimate source of information because it has become politicized.”

The committee had solicited written comments from the community prior to Wednesday’s meeting. Committee member Emily Lebo said 103 people signed letters in support of a mask mandate while 17 people signed letters in opposition to a mask mandate.

Letters submitted to the committee are typically read at the start of each meeting, but Koch asked the reading of those letters be waived Wednesday because it could take three to four hours to go through them all. The committee approved waiving the reading of the letters in a 5-2 vote, with Doug Gutro and Courtney Perdios voting in favor of having each letter read aloud.

Erin Perkins, the district’s assistant superintendent, provided the committee with a presentation on the state testing and quarantine guidelines for close contacts at the outset of the meeting.

The state defines a close contact as individuals who have been within six feet of a COVID-19 positive person while indoors for at least 15 minutes during a 24-hour period; the at-risk exposure time begins 48 hours prior to symptom onset (or time of positive test if asymptomatic) and continues until the time the COVID-19 positive individual is isolated.

Four categories of close contacts are exempt from testing and quarantine protocols, Perkins said. They include asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts; close contacts who have had COVID-19 in the past 90 days; and close contracts on buses, because masks are required on buses and they will operate with all windows open.

The fourth category of close contacts exempt from the testing and quarantine requirements are individuals who are exposed to a COVID-19 positive person in the classroom while both individuals were wearing a mask and were able to stay at least three feet apart.

The state has three different protocols students can follow if they are a close contact and they are not in one of the four exempt groups.

The state is allowing close contacts to “test and stay” meaning they can remain in school and do not have to quarantine as long as they are asymptomatic, masked, and take a rapid antigen test each school day for at least five days and receive a negative result each time.

Close contacts who do not participate in the test and stay program can return to school eight days after their exposure provided they are asymptomatic and receive a negative test result on day of five or later.

Close contacts who do not take any tests must quarantine for ten days following their exposure.