The Marshfield School District announced Sunday night that it will be switching to full remote learning for at least the next two weeks after more than 30 new cases of COVID-19 were reported since Christmas -- something the superintendent calls "concerning."
Winter athletics, including practices and games, will also be temporarily stopped while the district operates on a remote schedule, Marshfield Superintendent Jeffrey W. Granatino said.
"I was hoping to write a more positive note to kick off the new year, as we look to put 2020 in our rearview mirror, but unfortunately Covid 19 continues to impact our community," Granatino wrote.
There have been at least 32 new cases of the virus among Marshfield students and staff since the Dec. 25 holiday, Granatino said in a letter to the school community. Of those positive cases, 14 of them have been identified since New Year's Eve alone.
"While we have seen a significant increase in the number of cases in our town and within the school community, there have only been a few select cases that we determined to have been transmitted in the school community," the superintendent said. "Nonetheless, the numbers documented are concerning and out of an abundance of caution, feel this is the correct step to take for the health and safety of our students and staff."
Granatino said a number of staff and students, at all levels, have been notified they are considered close contacts of someone who has recently tested positive for the virus, meaning they will be required to quarantine.
"This causes numerous challenges that could have a detrimental impact on the effective management of our schools," Granatino said.
COVID-19 in Mass.
District officials decided to move to a full remote learning model and temporarily pause athletics after having discussions with the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the town's board of health and the district's physician.
The district will follow a remote learning schedule from Monday, Jan. 4, through Friday, Jan. 15, with the goal of returning to a hybrid schedule as of Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Granatino said the district has taken all the steps necessary to reduce the chance of this situation occurring, and officials continue to adhere to protocols from Massachusetts Department of Public Health and DESE.
Students should consult the district website for more information on remote schedules. The superintendent apologized for the late notification but said the district had been planning to open in traditional fashion on Monday.
"Nonetheless, I am confident we will be able to work together and make this Remote experience a positive one for all of our students and staff," he said. "Thank you again for your patience and understanding."