Districts roll back reopenings amid case rise
Schools wary of return to in-person learning
DOZENS OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS shifted to remote learning for at least two weeks after the holidays in an effort to keep the virus out of schools in the event students and parents traveled or engaged in large-person events during the break.
Brockton, which has an 11.85 percent community positive test rate, is delaying its return to in-person learning for almost 400 high needs students, which was set for mid-January, by at least two weeks. Pre-K and kindergarten students, which have been remote, would return February 8.
“I would like to recommend a two-week delay in that just so we can see where these numbers go for the holidays,” Superintendent Michael Thomas told the school committee Tuesday. “I am concerned about the number of staff members who have COVID since November 27.”
Brockton’s hospitals are experiencing hospitalization numbers not seen since late-May.
In Worcester, school officials unanimously decided Thursday to delay the start of in-person learning indefinitely, after a date of January 25 had been set to return special needs students in-person.
The city’s medical director, Dr. Michael Hirsh, called the 31 percent testing positivity rate at the city’s “stop the spread” center “quite daunting,” and said there was great risk of adults working in the community transmitting the virus to students.Some districts have set a high bar for a return to in-person instruction. In Williamstown, the Mount Greylock School District announced it will remain in remote learning mode until Berkshire County’s positivity rate goes below 3 percent, along with three consecutive weeks of the area being designated as gray or green (low risk for COVID-19 spread) on the state’s dashboard.
The number of in-school positive cases continues to remain low, but is skewed by the holidays. Statewide figures for the last two weeks showed 431 staff and students testing positive, a drop from 949 for a similar period before Christmas, but this includes the period of winter break when fewer people were inside buildings.