The Dover-Sherborn Regional School District has shifted to a remote start to the school year after more than 100 students attended a house party over the weekend.
The school committee is slated to meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss their approach to reopening schools after the party, where students were said not to be practicing social distancing.
Police in Sherborn responded to a house party with an estimated 100-150 people on Friday, where guests scattered into the woods upon their arrival. The party was hosted by a Dover-Sherborn high school student whose mother told NBC10 Boston that fewer than 10 friends were invited, but that the gathering spread like “wildfire” on social media. Students from several different towns started showing up, she said.
"It is a bit of a bummer and it makes me feel embarrassed for my town and community that stuff like that is going on," said student Robby Van Riet, who did not attend the party.
In a scathing letter to the community Monday, Dover-Sherborn Superintendent Andrew Keough said that hybrid learning at the high school will be delayed until Sept. 21 instead of Sept. 15. Students who attended the party are asked to undergo testing for COVID-19 no later than Sept. 16, given its typical incubation period.
“In choosing to flout the rules set down by society in the pandemic, they have now put us all at risk," Keough wrote. "We have no way of knowing the names of all of the people who attended the party or whether they might have been exposed to the Coronavirus.”
In addition, Keough said it was "strongly encouraged" that siblings of students who attended the party should remain remote until the 21st.
"As the leader of our schools, I feel some ownership for not conveying the importance to our school community of responsible behavior," Keough wrote. "To those who have worked so hard to make our reopening happen, I want to say I am sorry. To those whose lives have now been needlessly disrupted, I want to apologize to you, too. Finally, to those who are at high risk of illness or live with the fear of becoming sick, I want to assure you that we will try harder."
If cases of Coronavirus pop up and are tied to the party, in-school learning could be postponed even more.
"Learning online the entire time is tough," said student Grady Russo, who did not attend the party. "It would be much easier if we could go into school."
A similar situation has unfolded in Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, where official made a last-minute decision to adopt a remote learning model after an estimated 50-60 high school students went to a party over the weekend and allegedly did not wear masks or maintain social distance.
Superintendent and Principal Bella Wong said an estimated 15 students ran into the woods and another 13 students gave police false information. So school and health officials are unable to identify, test, monitor and isolate students who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
The high school, which was scheduled to start hybrid on Tuesday, will now be all remote for 14 days.