First case in Mass. had closed Stratton one day

UPDATED, March 11: Public Health Director Natasha Waden reported in a 6:45 p.m. update Tuesday, March 10,  that the second Arlington resident who was tested for Covid-19 after attending a Biogen event last week in Boston has tested negative for the illness. 

Flu shot imageOfficials are optimistic about the child whose test remains pending and the family shall remain in self-quarantine until that test result is also received.

That word came after the towns's public schools were open, following the first case of a Stratton student closed the school Monday, March 9. reported Tuesday, March 10, that the young Stratton student has tested positive for coronavirus, the first known case of a Massachusetts child becoming infected. The child's parent is a woman in her 40s who tested positive for the virus after attending a meeting of Biogen employees in February.

The second parent and another child in the household were symptom-free Monday but remain in self-quarantine, town officials said.

All public school in town are open Wednesday, March 11.

Public school concerts postponed 

Arlington public schools is postponing the All-Town Choral, Orchestra and Band Concerts scheduled between March 10 and 17, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said Tuesday, March 10, in a statement. "Dress rehearsals are also postponed," she said. "We are taking this action in an abundance of caution.

 "Also, some students and families are in self-quarantine and would not be able to participate, which creates an inequitable situation. We are postponing these events and associated dress rehearsals with the hope of finding future dates when they can be rescheduled.

"Thank you for your understanding, as we continue to keep the health and safety of our students and families as our major concern as our community is impacted by the ongoing nationwide coronavirus situation."

Health officials are also monitoring the family members of another Arlington resident who attended the Biogen meeting and has since become symptomatic. One of the resident’s children, who attends the Dallin Elementary School, has also shown symptoms of coronavirus, Christine Bongiorno, director of health and human services for the town, said during a news conference Monday evening.

Monday night update

In an update at 8:45 p.m. March 9, the town Health Department said  it had informed all faculty and staff and the families of any students who are considered by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) as being “close contacts” with the infected student. Those individuals have been advised to self-quarantine for 14 days and not report to school on Tuesday, March 10, in accordance with the advice of DPH.

In a statement, town and school officials stress: If you have not been notified by the Arlington Health Department that you need to self-quarantine, then you do not need to self-quarantine.

About 30 people ― including the students’ classmates and school staff — have been advised to self-quarantine, according to Bongiorno, as repiorted by The Globe.

 A “close contact” is a person that has been within six feet of a confirmed case for longer than 15 minutes at one time, or in direct contact with infectious secretions, while the case was likely to be infectious. A person is likely to be infectious from when they begin exhibiting symptoms up until at least 24 hours after they are symptom free.

Town officials took into account, in deciding to close the Stratton School on Monday, that Arlington’s Board of Health believes that this is the first or one of the first Covid-19 tests on a symptomatic sitting student in a Massachusetts public school whose parent tested positive for the illness. 

  “It is never an easy decision to close a school building," Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said in an earlier statement. "We are ever-mindful of child-care needs and family schedules; however, we are faced with a challenging and uncertain situation.

“Without test results in hand, and with a parent who has tested positive for Covid-19, the leadership team in Arlington unanimously feels that it is best to close the Stratton on Monday and re-evaluate during the day. I would like to thank our public health and public safety leaders as well as Town Manager Chapdelaine for their guidance and teamwork as we respond to our portion of this worldwide issue.”

Health officials are not recommending any further action on the part of school families. All other schools in Arlington were open Monday, March 9, and operated normally.

However, if families or children display symptoms of Covid-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they wre advised to not come to work or school. 

Woman in 40s attended Biogen event

The Town of Arlington was notified that a resident, a woman in her 40s who attended a Biogen employee conference last week developed symptoms and tested positive for Covid-19. One of her children, who attends the Stratton School, is showing symptoms and is being tested, but those test results remained pending Sunday evening. 

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The second parent in the household and their other child, who attends the Gibbs School, are symptom-free but shall remain in self-quarantine until a 14-day period has elapsed, in accordance with guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Health. 

Arlington's health officials are also awaiting test results that involve another Arlington family, a member of which also attended the Biogen conference, whose children attend school at Dalian Elementary, Gibbs and Arlington High School. None of those results are in yet, and, in accordance with guidance received by the state Department of Public Health, the other schools in Arlington remain open. That family is also in self-quarantine for now.

 Health Director Waden reports that the patient is at home and that these two families will continue to be monitored and supported by public health officials.

Included in 15 cases in Mass.

The Arlington presumptive positive case is included in the 15 cases announced by state public health officials Sunday, March 8. A total of 28 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Massachusetts as of Sunday afternoon. The Massachusetts State Public Health Lab’s results are considered “presumptive positive” and the specimens will now be sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation. 

 The risk of Covid-19 to the general public in Massachusetts remains low at this time. The school district has already taken advantage of the empty buildings on the weekend to sanitize and disinfect the school buildings, including Dallin Elementary, Stratton Elementary, Gibbs Middle School and Arlington High School. Cleaning crews were on-site throughout Sunday and had those four buildings fully cleaned and disinfected before the start of school Monday.

Crews will be back at the Stratton performing a second clean-up Monday. These efforts include the use of electrostatic machines and disinfecting spray, which are particularly effective at mitigating infections and viruses, with special attention to commonly touched surfaces and objects including but not limited to door handles, desks, chairs, gym equipment, floors, lavatories, teachers equipment, offices and computers.

These steps are not necessarily unusual, given that similar methods are used periodically during flu season anyway, and health officials remind residents that the seasonal flu remains a far more widespread danger to the general public than the coronavirus. Bodie thanks and commends that public-schgool facilities staff for their hard work Sunday.

 "We have an excellent facilities staff at the Arlington public schools, and they have the latest and most effective cleaning tools and products at their disposal," Bodie said. "As always we encourage everyone to practice good hand-washing routines and monitor themselves and their children for any signs of illness."


Any students who have to self-quarantine will be allowed to continue her lessons from home using the latest in virtual classroom technologies. 

As always, children and adults should be reminded to take everyday precautionary steps to stay healthy, including:

  • Wash hands frequently, with soap and hot water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • When you are sick, stay home to protect others and practice social distancing.
  • Always cover your cough or sneeze.

"The Town of Arlington is well-prepared to respond to the coronavirus situation. Our leadership teams are meeting weekly, and we have detailed plans and procedures in place to ensure safety and continuity of municipal services," Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said in the statement. "We have been meeting in anticipation that our community and any of our 43,000 residents could become ill, and we are delivering services and support to those affected by the coronavirus."

In a planning meeting on Friday, March 6, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Kevin Kelley implemented the federal Incident Command System. Director Waden was named the incident commander for Covid-19 preparedness and response in Arlington. 

 The Arlington Health Department will continue to monitor the global spread of Covid-19 and continue to keep residents informed. 

 For more information, the Town of Arlington Health and Human Services Covid-19 page or call the health department at 781-316-3170. You may also visit the DPH's website by clicking here and the CDC's website by clicking here

 Additional updates will be provided as information becomes available. 

Feb. 28-March 6, 2020: Coronavirus risk remains low in town, health office says in 2nd update

This news announcement was published Sunday, March 8. This edited version was written by John Guilfoil Public Relations, which provides news releases to the town.  It was updated March 9, to add a links, and later the same day, as well as March 10 and 11.