Many of us have been looking forward to the close of 2020 and the beginning of the New Year. The concept of a fresh start, a return to normalcy, has been a constant in our minds. Though the pandemic cast a dark shadow on 2020, Wakefield continues to shine. And this season, we’ve seen a distinct increase in intensity.
Over the last few months, incredible advancements in medicine have brought a community-wide vaccine within reach. Just weeks ago, our Health Director and Emergency Manager, in collaboration with Cataldo Abulance Service, organized three Wakefield-based COVID-19 testing events for residents and Town staff. Almost 2,300 participants took advantage of this free, convenient option. The feedback from residents was overwhelmingly positive, and we were grateful to be able to offer the service to those who wanted it. Incidentially, 96 percent of those tested were, thankfully, negative.
There was also great strength in the community this season. A push to shop local was promoted by organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and Wakefield Community Partnership. The Wakefield Neighborhood Association and Chabad of the North Shore ensured our Common still glittered with holiday lights. Residents gave back through Toys for Tots collections and Wakefield Food Pantry donations. Santa even paraded through our neighborhoods in a red Ferrari!
In our schools, our youngest students also showed their determination. Students persevered in hybrid and remote settings and our teachers and educational staff found innovative ways to teach and engage students. Schools held community outreach events like holiday-card drives and winter-coat collections. Even pajama days and musical performances continued, albeit over Zoom. We’re inspired by our students’ passion and grateful for the families and educators who support them.
Our older students welcomed their peers daily at the Middle School with morning video announcements on Get Up Galvin. Our high schoolers continue to find new ways to learn and stay connected with their peers, participating in modified fall sports, band, and extracurricular activities. We even had our fist production of A Christmas Carol, streamed via Zoom. The level of creativity and collaboration between students and teachers has never been greater.
Though we often hear from other communities’ leaders that their operations have been impacted by the pandemic, Wakefield’s municipal staff, committees, and boards and haven’t skipped a beat. In fact, we’ve created a lot of efficiencies, like our new online permitting system. We held two well-attended Town Meetings, both with outdoor seating and audio/visual accommodations, and our Town Council, School Committee, and Finace Committee’s focus and leadership is as strong as ever.
All of this was possible because of the wonderful, resilient, and thoughtful residents, staff, and businesses of Wakefield.
While we foresee a brighter 2021, turning the page on a calendar will not automatically change where we are today. Though you may tire of hearing it, we must remain vigilant in our distancing, mask wearing, and hand hygiene.
To again paraphrase country singer Luke Combs:
“We all miss giving hugs and shaking hands, and it’s a mystery just how long that this thing goes. But there will be crowds and there will be shows and there will be light after dark someday when we aren’t six feet apart.”
Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Wakefield pride! It’s all about the Ws.
Have a safe and healthy 2021.
Stepehn P. Maio, Town Administrator
Douglas Lyons, Superintendent of Schools