Curley School to Remain Closed All Week Amid COVID Outbreak

Despite the objection of Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley, students at the Curley School in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood will continue to learn remotely after dozens of COVID-19 cases among students and staff members

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The Curley School in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood will remain closed for the next week against the Massachusetts education commissioner's wishes, as students continue remote learning and administrators work to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has already impacted nearly 50 students and staff members.

The K-8 school announced on Tuesday that it planned to switch to remote learning for 10 days to curb the outbreak, which recently sickened 46 students and employees.

But the state education commissioner, Jeffrey Riley, quickly criticized that decision, requesting that students return no later than Nov. 17. He also recommended that the school set up testing by Nov. 14.

Riley also refused to grant the school's request that seven of the 10 remote days be counted toward the required 180-day school year.

He waived only four of the remote days.

"My son was actually exposed to COVID through one of his classmates, and so we kept him home to quarantine him," said parent Emily Pilowa. "I think that this school made this decision very carefully after a lot of thought, with deep consideration of the kids' safety."

The school said it was unable to find a vendor to accommodate daily testing for its nearly 1,000 students and more than 100 employees, making it difficult to opt for the state's "Test and Stay," program.

The program allows students who have had close contact with COVID patients to continue taking in-person classes as long as they submit to daily testing.

Dr. Michael Misialek, associate chair of pathology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, said that while the testing program is effective, it can be challenging to implement.

"There is a point at which the testing — the rapid testing — just becomes to unwieldy to administer on a very large-scale basis," he said.

Students will return to in-person classes on Nov. 22.

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