Important Update: COVID Metrics

Important Update: COVID Metrics
Posted on 11/12/2020

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Dear CPS Community,

I am writing with important news regarding an increase in regional COVID-19 data, a School Committee vote tonight that will consider recommended updates to the metrics we currently monitor, and a potential temporary shift to remote learning for all students.

As you may know, CPS’s scientific advisors helped us to identify three metrics to inform our school opening plans. The current metrics, which are displayed on the CPS COVID-19 dashboard, reflect:


  1. Daily new cases: The weighted average of new cases each day per 100,000 people in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties (Threshold: less than 25)

  2. Positive testing rate: The rate of positive new COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts (Threshold: less than 5%)

  3. Wastewater monitoring: The level of COVID-19 found in sewage wastewater for 61 communities in the region (Threshold: less than 100 copies viral genomes/mL)

If two or more of those metrics exceed the recommended thresholds, the CPS plan to minimize risk requires a transition to remote learning for all students.

As of today, the reported data shows that both the number of daily new cases and the wastewater measure have surpassed the recommended thresholds. As a result, CPS is prepared for a possible and temporary shift to remote learning for all students next week.

However, when these guidelines were approved over the summer, they contained a provision calling for a scientific review of the metrics in October, after more had been learned about COVID-19 transmission and the effectiveness of CPS safety protocols. Following that review, our scientific advisors presented a recommendation to shift the metrics from regional to Cambridge-only data. (See this summary and presentation for more details). The School Committee has been evaluating that recommendation and will decide at a special meeting tonight whether to adopt the shift in the metrics.

We will update you tomorrow on the School Committee’s decision and how it will impact our learning plan. If the recommended metrics are adopted, a shift to all-remote learning will not be necessary at this time. No matter what, we will continue the in-person school schedule on Friday, November 13 and Monday, November 16 for those students currently learning in-person.

In the case of a district-wide temporary shift to remote learning due to COVID-19 metrics, you can expect:

  • Notification from the district via email and, for in-person learners, by phone
    At least 2 days’ notice before a shift to remote learning for all students
  • Follow-up information from your school about schedules and links for logging in to remote learning
  • A remote meals plan similar to the Spring
  • Schools to remain closed for at least 1 week, with in-person education resuming only after two metrics remain below the thresholds for 7 consecutive days

It is important to consider the complexity of this situation. There are many variables, including scientific developments and community health updates. We remain committed to protecting the health and safety of all within our CPS community, while also recognizing the benefit many of our students and families derive from in-person learning. As we have all along, we will rely on the advice of our scientific community and evidence-based metrics to inform our decisions.

Please look for a message from me tomorrow morning with the latest information. Thank you for your patience during this uncertain period of time as we seek to make the best decisions possible.


Kenneth N. Salim, Ed.D

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