An ad hoc committee of town officials will be exploring the path to a possible reopening of Town Hall for some services in the near future.
School officials are working on four possible scenarios for the next school year as well.
Town Administrator Mike Dennehy said the creation of the committee grew out of a meeting on May 11 that included the department heads, whom he called “the subject matter experts,” evaluating what has and hasn’t been working well since Town Hall closed its doors to outside visitors.
“A lot of things are working well and some are leading toward a soft opening,” he said.
According to Dennehy, options for keeping workers and the public safe may include the requirement that residents set up appointments to stop by the Town Clerk, Treasurer, or Assessing offices.
Also discussed was the possibility that those entering the building, in addition to being required to wear a mask or face covering, will have to submit to a temperature scan, he said.
Town employees have been working from home, or on a staggered basis, to allow for social distancing since Gov. Charlie Baker implemented the stay-at-home order on March 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Most services have continued to be supplied through the use of a drop box on the north end of Town Hall, email, and phone calls.
Baker on May 18 gave more details of a four-step reopening plan. [See page 13]. Dennehy said the town will comply with guidance from the state.
Assistant School Superintendent Glenn Pavlicek, meanwhile, said the district’s possible options include reopening normally in the fall; bringing students back gradually with half of the students reporting one week and the other half the next week; a possible virus resurgence in which remote learning is necessary; and the most dire possibility, namely that school cannot be reopened at all in the fall because of COVID-19.
Pavlicek recently told the Warrant Committee that the schools are awaiting guidance on summer enrichment and whether before and after school programs will be allowed.
Social distancing could cut in half the number of students who are allowed on a school bus, he said.
“It’s all going to depend on what guidance we receive from the state,” Pavlicek said. “Right now, we have four different plans for everything at this point.”
Dennehy said any decisions at Town Hall will be closely coordinated with Health Director Caroline Kinsella, the Information Technology Department, and the department of Consolidated Facilities.
A major concern is how to make the building safe for visitors and workers as it opens up to the public, said Dennehy.
He said staff members are concerned how social distancing, or physical distancing, will be maintained with people entering the building. A distance of at least 6 feet between other people, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is recommended to keep COVID-19 from spreading.
Other concerns involve building cleaning and maintenance as well as what protocols will be in place for workers who may need to enter people’s homes to access water meters or carry out other services like cutting the grass in local parks; and when and if playground structures will be allowed to reopen.
The investigation will continue to be a “developing situation,” Dennehy said.