Letter To The Editor: Belmont Help Asks Residents To Keep The Numbers Down

Photo: Belmont Helps Free Masks table during Belmont Serves weekend. More than 2,500 masks have been gifted by our mask drive.

To the editor:

We keep hearing Massachusetts Covid-19 positives are escalating, and not everyone clearly knows what that means. As of Oct. 28, Massachusetts marked more than 150,000 people testing positive for Covid-19. The next day, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health marked Belmont as yellow – as a community at moderate risk for infection – for the first time with 16 cases confirmed the past 14 days and a 4.2 average daily incidence rate.

Belmont Helps has been tracking confirmed Covid-19 cases since it began. We track the numbers in Belmont, Middlesex County, and Massachusetts as published weekly by the Belmont and Massachusetts health departments. Before this week, Belmont has been in the green or gray category on the Daily Incident Rate charts, faring better than some of our neighboring towns. Belmont has registered 293 positive cases to date. Covid-19 often carries a variety of symptoms, and sometimes no symptoms during its contagious period.

Ways to help keep numbers down is to wear a mask, wash your hands often, limit your exposure to others, stay home if feeling any symptoms, and limit large group gatherings.

Feel free to check numbers anytime at belmonthelps.org, and click on Covid#’s.

Amy Kirsch

Lead chair of Belmont Helps

Sports: Field Hockey, Boys’ Soccer, Girls’ X-C Break In the Win Column At Season Midpoint

Photo: Belmont High’s Isabel Burger taking first at Reading.

The shortened 2020 fall sports season reached it midpoint as Belmont saw three of its teams – field hockey, girls’ cross country and boys’ soccer – all registered their first victories of the campaign.

Burger leads Girls’ Cross Country to first of the season victory

A strong showing by Belmont girls’ harriers’ three, four and five runners saw the Marauders notch its first win of the season, defeating host Reading Memorial, 22-35, on a cool and cloudy autumn noon time on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Belmont Head Coach Melissa Tkacs said after the chaos of the first race in Lexington – every Belmont runner with the exception one ran an extra mile – that “each runner is coming into their own. We had a really solid training week so the runners felt confident coming into [the race] and you could see that confidence come through.”

Leading Belmont (1-2) over the short-ish 2.5 mile course was the team’s senior stalwart Isabel Burger who took first in 16 minutes and 2 seconds followed by fellow senior Elizabeth Hoerle who placed third in 17:03.

Burger lived up to expectations – she finished first vs. Lexington and second in Winchester – running stride for stride with Reading’s Sophie Shanley over the first half of the race before pulling away and winning by 61 seconds.

Tkacs also praised the running of Tori Meringer, Tilly Hamer and Angie Zhao – again, all seniors – who secured the win finishing in 4th, 5th and 6th.

“In cross country, what’s important is not only how your top runners do but also how the pack performs. Today I think we had a tight pack and that supported the team and provided us having a successful race,” she said.

Next for the harriers is a trip to Arlington on Sat. Nov. 7.

Estrada’s brace lifts Marauders to victory

Two goals by junior striker Mateo Estrada and a clean sheet from junior goalkeeper Damon Reyes resulted in the Belmont High Boys’ Soccer (1-3-1) winning its first game of the season, 2-0, in action at Harris Field Saturday, Oct. 24.

Estrada opened his scoring account midway through the second quarter with an assist from senior co-captain Theo Kargere. He doubled his goal total just 32 seconds into the third quarter on a solo strike, giving first year Head Coach Jean Laforgue- Carlone his initial victory running the team.

Belmont will be at Reading at 10 a.m., Halloween, in the reverse fixture.

Field Hockey, behind Donahue’s hat trick, earns first win

Belmont High Field Hockey was thrown into the fire as the season began, having to face Middlesex League powerhouses Lexington and Winchester all the while having to learn a new game due to extensive rule changes – the most significant being the reduction of players on the field from 11 to 7 – on top of limited practice time.

While Belmont found itself on the wrong side of big score results, the team made steady progress adapting to a game that relies less on traditional skills of short passing and stickhandling and more long on the long ball and speedy counters.

“We are starting to gel after having such a hard start with so many new kids on the team and trying to figure out where they go. You have to rely on some of them because our starters can’t last out on the field because they are covering so much of the ground,” said Belmont’s long serving head coach Jess Smith.

Belmont demonstrated its newly found game with a 3-1 victory against host Reading on Saturday, Oct. 24 as forward Emma O’Donovan scored the hat trick with goals in the second and fourth quarters.

As for the offense, it all comes down to O’Donovan.

“We could talk all afternoon about number 24 [O’Donovan],” said Belmont’s long serving head coach Jess Smith. The senior co-captain demonstrated her outstanding stick handling in passing defenders leading to her second goal on the solo break four minutes into the fourth.

O’Donovan’s final goal came 83 seconds after the penultimate strike, coming off a long rebound that she took on the backhand – requiring her to hold her stick with the stick blade positioned downward – and one timed it back pass the goalie.

While O’Donovan took charge up front, the Marauders’ defense starts with senior goalie Kendall Whalen who had a busy day beating back several drives into the the attacking zone.

“I don’t know how many saves [Whalen] had but I remember a couple of two player breaks that she rushed out of the net and came up huge. That takes confidence,” said Smith.

Twins Olympia and Sophie Kalavantis anchored the backline as the senior co-captains while midfielders Ellie McLaughlin and Ally Donahue won Smith’s plaudits for doing the heavy work of rushing back to help out defensively but also contributing upfield in the attack. And junior attack Molly Dacey “is just non-stop with a ton of energy who works hard whenever she’s on the field.”

At 1-4-0, Belmont hosts Reading at Harris Field at 1:30 p.m. on Halloween.

Rest of sports:

Belmont High Girls’ Soccer had most of the shots and was putting on a display of combination passing that Head Coach Paul Graham described as “the best we’ve done all year.” But the Marauders lacked the finishing touch against host Reading on Oct. 24.

And Belmont would suffer the fate of good teams that allow their opponents to “stick around.” Scoreless midway through the fourth quarter, a tricky shot alluded the Belmont defense which gave Reading the lead. And while the Marauders had their chances late, they could not convert from a series of set pieces, falling to Reading, 1-0, as the Rockets earned its first win.

Belmont, 1-3-1, will next see Reading on Halloween at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m.

Yellow Alert: Belmont Enters State’s Moderate COVID-19 Risk Level

Photo: COVID update

On the day U.S. infections hit a new daily record of more than 91,000, Belmont entered the ‘yellow’ or moderate level of coronavirus risk, according to the state’s Department of Public Health on Thursday, Oct. 29.

Municipalities in the ‘yellow’ category are those with an average daily case rate between 4 to 8 cases per 100,000 population over the past 14 days. Belmont’s rate is currently at 4.2.

In the past month, Belmont has seen a distinct spike in positive COVID case rates:

DateAverage daily case rate between per 100,000 population
Oct. 92.35
Oct. 161.83
Oct. 232.9
Oct. 294.2

The total number of positive cases in Belmont since the beginning of the pandemic has reached 293 as of Oct. 29. Deaths remain steady at 60 since the last reported fatality in May.

And town officials saw the spike in cases coming. Belmont’s Health Department Director Wesley Chin told the Select Board on Monday, Oct. 26, the town recorded seven positive cases just in the past weekend.

“Belmont is not immune to [the national] trend,” said Chin, referring to the outbreak over the weekend as “a pretty big jump for us.” Chin said the rising number of cases is not due to a single source, such as a “super spreader” event.

Belmont had been a green community with a daily case rate below 4 since the state implemented its color coded system in early August.

With cases on the march, Chin reminded residents to practice social distancing, wear masks, wash their hands and stay home if they are feeling ill.

One Week To Vote: A Q&A With Town Clerk On Early Voting, Election Day

Photo: Early voting at Town Hall continues to Friday

There are mailers filled with voter requests stacked behind the plexiglass on the front desk of the Belmont Town Clerks office at Town Hall. Across the hall, volunteers are helping residents with the early voting process while other voters are jump out of their vehicles to place mail-in ballots into the town’s official “drop box.”

With the 2020 presidential election one week away, it was expected that the small full-time staff and Town Clerk Ellen Cushman would be busy with a myriad of tasks; from answering requests, preparing Belmont’s eight polling stations, having everything prepped for Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Now add to the usual election preparations a coronavirus pandemic, running an early election operation in Town Hall and an explosion in mail-in ballots, it’s about as busy as Santa’s workshop the day before Christmas in the Clerk’s office.

For Ellen Cushman, Belmont’s Town Clerk, the goal of her office in the coming seven days is to make the process of voting as smooth and worry free as possible. The Belmontonian spoke with Cushman at Town Hall to ask her view of the upcoming election.

Belmontonian: Across the country, there have been extraordinary numbers in states and cities in regards to early voting. What has been the experience here?

Cushman: In Belmont, we have 18,000 registered voters, and we’ve mailed out more than 11,000 ballots. To date, we have 9,000 of those in hand, so we’re about at 50 percent of all voters having cast their ballots and are done. We still have about 2,800 ballots that are floating around out there and they’re deciding whether they’re going to turn them in, or they’re going to vote on Election Day. Then there are the remaining 7,000 who haven’t made a mail-in request or have early voted.

Q: So how many, so how much longer do people have before. Do they have to vote, either coming in, either early voting like we have here, or via mail,

Cushman: If you want to file a vote by mail request and receive a ballot to be mailed to you. You have until Wednesday, October 28 to file that request at 5 p.m. To request a ballot by mail, go online on to the Secretary of the Commonwealth portal – it’s also a great place to check whether your ballot has been returned, whether you’re a registered voter and where you would vote. You can just also go to that same site, print the “vote by mail application” and then you would have to fax it to us, email it to us, or drop it in our Dropbox out in front of Town Hall. Any of those three is acceptable. But again by the deadline is Oct. 28.

You can also vote by coming into Town Hall and do early voting in person. Early continues until Friday, Oct. 30. The schedule is

  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Friday; 8 a.m. to noon

And if you miss those two early options, you can always show up on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3 at one of the eight Belmont precincts based on where you live.

Q: Due to the average age of election workers, somce towns are having trouble getting enough staff for Nov. 3. What is the situtation in Belmont?

Early voting starts here.

Cushman: We’ve been doing great. We have a lot of wonderful seasoned workers for have been here for a long time but who were not able to do so because they were in higher-risk categories due to COVID. We were down definitely before our June Town Election so we put out a call to people and we got a tremendous response who heard that maybe the election was going to be compromised in terms of our ability to recruit and keep poll workers. In the end, we’ve got 210 qualified election workers. I think we’re going to be deploying about 120 of them on election day.

Q: This could be a record turnout for the country in term of voters. What do you think the percentage is going to be in Belmont?

Cushman: I am not going to predict but I will tell you if you looked at the past, Belmont is a very heavy voting community particular if you look at the state election two years ago. In 2018, Belmont was at 74 percent, one of the highest in the state. Our presidential elections in November usually hangs out somewhere in the lower 80s, 85 percent. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in that zone; it certainly feels that way to us there’s a tremendous amount of interest, a lot of energy, people are excited to get involved in the process.

Q: With the volume of ballots and new procedures, have any issues cropped up from the public?

Cushman: We have had only a couple of people who are unhappy with what they’re finding as they’re going through the process. They thought they could requested a ballot by mail and then came here in person and be able to put their ballot through the voting machine. Massachusetts laws only allows voters to do that on Election Day. So we’ve only had a couple of those sort of intersections which were less than fulfilling but that’s what happens when you have 18,000 people trying to vote.

Q: Any final words for the voters week before the election?

Cushman: The polls at the precincts are open on Election Day at 7 a.m. and close promptly at 8 p.m. If you are in line at 8 p.m., you will still be able to vote.

And prepare to be patient. This is a very unusual year. All of our polling places had to be reconfigured for the June and September elections and we’re using the same sort of configurations: one way in, one way out as much as we can and all of the voting booths are at least six-feet apart. Some of our polling locations had to be diminish or cut back on the number of booths that we’re offering, so the number of people who will be allowed in the polling place to vote will likely be smaller. So bring a Sudoku or crossword puzzle, headphones or a book. People are used to just picking their time, walking in walking out.

It might be a reset of what their expectation is and that’s where we are.

Opinion: Open Belmont High School With Livestreaming, A Solution That Can Be Implemented In Days [Video]

Photo: The Youtube video of the parents explaining its proposal

Belmont High School students can and need to return to in-person learning.  The hybrid model originally proposed and adopted by the School Committee resulted in an unacceptable loss of instruction time.  There is a simple, inexpensive solution that can bring our children back to school now: Extend remote livestream to hybrid livestream in days.  

Our proposal (by Sheryl Grace YouTube) is that teachers can livestream classes to all remote students so that both the in-person and remote students are learning together. Technically, this is no different than the Google Classes offered in the remote environment – teachers are using technology to teach their classes and they continue to do so. This approach has significant upside for both the students and teachers. Students are able to attend class in-person – they can see their peers and their teachers. They are in a more traditional school environment. Teachers can more clearly see their classes – what is working and what may need further explanation. And both groups are able to share an energy that cannot be transmitted online. Because the classes are live-streamed, teachers can avoid developing hours of asynchronous learning content. This model does not require months of meetings – it has been implemented by our fellow Middlesex County schools – it is working and it is ready for immediate adoption in Belmont.    

In a surprising reversal of the previous school committee vote, the committee voted to delay again the start of hybrid in high school to an unspecified time, at best January.  This decision was based on survey results which showed the community’s strong dislike of the proposed hybrid model and were willing to take a delay for a better model.  We agree that the original hybrid model removed too much instruction time, but do not agree that we need months to fix it.  Instead of looking to surrounding communities – many of which have brought their high school students back to school – the school committee decided to implement a task force with the goal of reopening in January – almost a full year after our schools were shut down.   

A number of public schools have implemented a more comprehensive hybrid plan than BPS. The delay of Belmont hybrid affords us the opportunity to “copy&paste” rather than reinventing the wheel. Key to all these hybrid models is live streaming that maximizes in person learning and instructional time, while maximizing teacher safety by allowing those teachers who require it to teach from home. Some of us have implemented live streaming in our classrooms using solutions that are within the abilities of teachers, as well as the financial and technical support available in the district. Reducing instructional time is burdensome to teachers as it requires them to retool their lesson plans and curriculum. As teachers get visual feedback from students attending in-person, they are able to be more effective for the remote students as well. This is a solution where everyone wins.  

The fear that drives school closures is understandable, but may also be exaggerated. In the past week, the infection rate among approximately 450,000 students and 75,000 teachers attending classes in person in Massachusetts was 0.029 percent and 0.09 percent respectively.  The rate during the same period was similar to Massachusetts’ population at large and supports numerous studies that conclude that schools are not a vector of infection. A report in New York Times of COVID-19 infections in New York City public schools suggests that the risks in schools may be exaggerated.

Remote learning has many failings and asynchronous learning will only exacerbate the outcomes. In an interview with the Harvard Gazette, Prof. Joseph Allen, the lead author of Harvard’s T. H. Chan report, argues that remote learning is leading to a new phenomenon of “virtual dropouts” that will have lasting impact on children’s outcomes. “[W]e have virtual dropouts. We have major school districts in the U.S. where a third of the kids are not logging in every day.” The virtual dropout” and lack of engagement is evident in Belmont High School which led the school principal to abruptly mandate students to turn the cameras on during class time.

We propose that Belmont adopt a tried and true hybrid plan now. This gets our students back to school while preserving their instruction time. It makes the jobs of our teachers easier and it does not cost the district much, if any, money. We can proceed with the task force to improve on this plan – but there is no reason to wait months when we have the answer. Time is of the essence for our children – we need to act now while the health metrics are good. 

Jamal Carlos Saeh, Sheryl Grace, Danielle Lemack, Larry Schmidt, Christine McLaughlin, Martin Zwierlein, Anja Genia Meichsner, Patrick Whittemore, Karl Ivester, Maíra Rejane Marques Samary, Heather Ivester, Colleen Doherty-Minicozzi, Laurie Manjikian, Jane MacKinnon, Stephanie Hovsepian, Chris McLaughlin, Maysoun Shomali, Jill Callanan, Elizabeth Woo, Michael Callanan, Mikhail Zaslavskiy, Beth Halloran, Laura French, Ron Creamer, Nancy Quinn, Julie Meringer, Jacqueline Agular, Patrick J Murphy, David Thesmar, Fleur Thesmar, Olga Shyshko, Tamara Kefeyan, Katherine Hawko, Tim Halloran, Joe Quinn, Judy Dacey, Jennifer G. Ausrotas, Ray Ausrotas

Belmont Center Reopens For Two-Way Traffic: Will There Be A Repeat Next Summer?

Photo: Back to normal on Leonard Street

There are two ways to view the return of two-way traffic on Leonard Street through Belmont Center on Monday, Oct. 27: a return to normality for commuters after 137 days of detours and alternative routes or an end to a new way to view and use Belmont’s business and restaurant hub.

According to the head of the group that advocates for Belmont Center’s businesses, there is a good chance the merchants and restauranteurs will ask the town to return to the more pedestrian-friendly arrangement for next summer.

With the concrete New Jersey barriers and steel gates removed just after the morning rush hour, Leonard Street returned to the two way traffic after the town’s Select Board voted in early June to close down Belmont Center until Labor Day as a way of supporting the prominent restaurant trade during the COVID-19 pandemic which forced them to halt indoor dining.

With traffic restricted through the center, restaurants and retail stores were able to expand their operations onto the sidewalk for al fresco dining.

After first voting to halt all but emergency vehicles and MBTA buses, the Select Board moved to limit travel on Leonard Street from Alexander Avenue to Moore Street in the direction to the commuter rail tunnel after hearing from several merchants protest the elimination of all off-street parking.

The restrictions were extended from Labor Day to the end of October to assist eateries as state continued to limit the number of diners in establishments.

Gerry Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sporting Goods and president of the Belmont Center Business Association said the more than four months of the new traffic configuration resulted in “an excellent summer” as “a lot of people loved it, just to get outside during these tough times.”

“It was very successful for the majority of merchants,” said Dickhaut.

With the recent experience under its belt, Dickhaut said the business association is eager for a return to a more pedestrian-friendly center for 2021.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do it next year after [Belmont] Town Day (which takes place in mid-June), and make this an annual thing,” he said.

With permission from the select board and town officials, Dickhaut would like to see the one-way traffic configuration for the calendar summer from June to September.

“It was well worthwhile maybe we should add some music next year, make it a festival,” he envisions. “We heard that some of the merchants said, ‘it’s great to have it for the summer but a little longer is maybe hurtful for some of the business.’ There were a couple of businesses that didn’t like it, but the majority of the business did like it.”

Dress-up This Halloween And Help BHS UNICEF Club Save Lives

Photo: Dress-up the Halloween With Belmont High’s UNICEF Club

Bummed about not being able to Trick-or-Treat this Halloween? Are you a parent whose kids are frustrated that they can’t show off their costumes? Well, Belmont High School’s UNICEF Club have some exciting news: While Halloween this year may look different, it’s far from canceled as Belmont High School’s UNICEF Club is hosting a virtual costume contest!

In past years, UNICEF has always held a Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF fundraiser during Halloween. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions this year, trick-or-treating may be canceled for many. As a replacement, the Belmont High School chapter of UNICEF is proud to host a virtual Halloween costume contest: Dress-up for UNICEF! Enter in this contest to win fabulous prizes (including candy!) while helping out children in need. This contest is open to ALL AGES.

Want to enter? Submit your entry here!

Dress-up for Halloween like usual, and enter your (or your child’s) costume in our costume contest! We are offering the option to donate to our virtual Trick-or-Treat box along with the contest—consider it an entry fee of sorts—but again, it is totally optional. You and your child’s donations are sent directly to UNICEF, who uses the proceeds to make a difference around the world. UNICEF recently ordered more than one million reusable masks for vulnerable communities, all manufactured locally to provide jobs. A little goes a long way:

  • $5 can immunize 10 children against measles and rubella
  • $35 can supply 50 kids with pencils and books for a year of education
  • $150 can provide a whole village with a hand pump for safe drinking water.

Every contribution makes a difference! Last year, Belmont raised a grand total of $1,541 from Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. We’re hoping to raise as much, if not more, through this fundraiser, but we need YOUR support.


You can submit your entry and find out more about the contest regarding rules, categories, etc. here: http://bit.ly/dressupforunicef, or scan the QR Code below.

What is UNICEF?

UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is a worldwide organization that works in more than 190 countries to help children by providing basic services like health care, education, food, water, protection, and more. This year, children need your help more than ever with COVID-19 impacting areas with little access to the resources that can help battle this pandemic.

Even if you don’t plan on participating in our contest, you can do your part by spreading the word through social media or simply through word of mouth! Attached below is a picture flyer you can share. UNICEF and children around the world are counting on you.

Community Forum for Parents/Guardians of Remote-Only Students On Monday


On Monday, Oct. 26, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan and Assistant Superintendent Janice Darias will host a forum for parents and guardians of elementary students who are remote-only during the hybrid experience. 

In preparation for this meeting, we invite remote-only, elementary parents/guardians to complete this short survey (SURVEY LINK) to share successes, challenges, and questions from their experiences. If possible, please complete the survey by 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 26. We will start the forum with a brief presentation followed by a question and answer period.

Although this forum will focus on the elementary experience, parents and guardians middle and high school students are also welcome to attend. We will hold a second forum focusing on the experience for middle and high school students at a later date.

We look forward to this time together to hear family input and feedback about how we can best serve our students during this challenging time.

Parents can join the forum on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86206571288 

Meeting ID: 862 0657 1288 
To join by telephone, 
Call:  (646) 558-8656 
When prompted, enter: 86206571288# 
When prompted, enter # 

To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone.

Schools To Remain In Remote Learning Through Tuesday As District Reviews Air Exchange Data … Again


After suffering through the public embarassment of admitting the data supporting one of the pillars of its safety protocol was rife with faulty calculations, Belmont School District has decided it needs double the time it orginally believed before finally feeling confidence with the numbers.

So, with an abundance of caution in mind, the district announced late Friday, Oct 23, that PreK to 8th grade students will remain in remote learning for a fourth and fifth day: Monday, Oct. 26, and Tuesday, Oct. 27.

“Our expectation at this time is for hybrid in-person learning to resume at the elementary level on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and at the middle school level on Thursday, Oct. 29,” read an email from Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

The reason for these additional days is to ensure “the accuracy of the data” coming from a third round of air exchange tests conducted in Belmont’s six public school buildings.

“This is a time consuming process, and we do not want to rush,” said Phelan.

The extent of the problem was revealed at the Tuesday, Oct. 20, Belmont School Committee meeting when Keith Prata from Bala Consulting Engineers, hired to conduct air exchange tests and advise the town on the number of fans and ventulators required in each classroom, admitted that miscalculations on the use of a multiplier led to discrepancies throughout the Excel spreadsheet underestimated the equipment needed. The errors were discovered at the beginning of the month.

In its mitigation of the faulty data set, the district has been testing and reviewing the latest numbers with Bala and the town’s Facilities Department:

  • For a third time Bala has walked through the buildings to review and assess the allocation of resources to ensure appropriate air exchange.
  • In an abundance of caution, the district has implemented a peer review process.
  • Steven Dorrance, the town’s director of facilities is reviewing the data with Bala.
  • School principals will do a building-based review of the latest data.
  • The review will be shared with the educators’ health and wellness committee
  • Meetings with be held with all parties in the review process.

“We expect the review, sharing of data, and meetings will take two days. We are still awaiting the final report and executive summary from Bala,” said Phelan. “When the School Department receives this, we will submit it to our stakeholders.”

As COVID Spikes In State, Belmont Remains In The ‘Green’; Four New School Cases In Past Week

Photo: Belmont stays on the safe side of the COVID-19 surge.

As the corona virus spikes for the third time across the nation, Belmont has seen the rate of COVID-19 infection over the past two weeks relatively steady as the community remains one of the few to retain a “green” designation from the state’s Department of Public Health.

Based on the average daily cases per 100,000 residents, each city or town is designated a color to indicate if they are a community with a higher risk (red), moderate risk (yellow), or lower risk (green).

The color map from the MDPH as of Oct. 21.

As of Wednesday, Oct. 21, Belmont’s average daily incidence rate per 100,000 was at 2.9. While that is slightly higher over the previous two weeks, Belmont remains in the “green” catagory reserved for municipalities with less than 4 cases per 100,000. The town has reported 11 new cases since Oct. 7 for a total case count of 282.

The total number of deaths caused by COVID-19 continues to hold steady at 60 with the last reported death in late May.

Statewide, the daily incidence rate has soared to 9.2 per 100,000 with nearly 9,000 new cases confirmed in the past fortnight. Many cities and towns close to Belmont has seen their average daily incidence rates skyrocket with neighboring Waltham reporting a rate of 13.9 as 130 positive cases in the past 14 days.

Belmont’s Health Department Director Wesley Chin told the Belmont Select Board that his department is advising all residents to continue to social distance and when out in public to wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose and which has ear loops.

“We strongly discourage the use of neck gaiters and bandanas,” said Chin as they don’t stop virus filled droplets from escaping into the air and, in fact, the fabric appear to turn large droplets into smaller ones creating aerosols that can build up over time infecting an entire room or indoor space.

Four additional positive cases at the Chenery

Two seperate cases – reported on Oct. 15 and Oct. 19 – of a pair of positive COVID-19 cases at the Chenery Middle School were confirmed by the town’s Health Department.

The Belmont School District has now confirmed seven positive cases at three schools since early September: Winn Brook Elementary (1), Chenery Middle School (5) and Belmont High School (1).

Of the two individuals – either students or staff members – confirmed to have the virus on Oct. 19, both were in close contact with one of the positive cases reported on Oct. 15. The classroom which all the individuals were located has been closed and all students and staff who also used the room are now working and learning remotely.

In regards to one of the positive cases reported on Oct. 15, it was in close contact with a previously reported case identified on Oct. 14. The second positive case on Oct. 15 was independent of all other cases.