All public schools in Barnstable, Massachusetts, are pivoting to remote learning for the rest of this week amid a community outbreak of COVID-19 in the town.
School officials said they were notified of 45 cases across all nine of the district's schools last week, and another 28 cropped up on Monday and Tuesday. Another 260 staff and students are in quarantine as close contacts, and 60 staff and students are in isolation with COVID.
Barnstable had the highest average daily rate of cases and highest percent positivity rate among towns in Massachusetts in last week's state Department of Public Health COVID dashboard.
"The well-being of our students and staff is our number one priority," Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown said in a statement.
Mayo-Brown said the district will pivot to remote learning on Thursday and Friday and will continue to review the public health metrics over the coming days to see if they can reopen for in-person learning on Monday.
She said parents should look for an email on Sunday afternoon with further details.
"It is disappointing and disheartening to make this announcement at this time. While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we cannot let our guard down in terms of maintaining our health and safety protocols, including masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene," Mayo-Brown said. "As the Commonwealth is advancing reopening efforts, we find ourselves taking a step back due to community spread of COVID."
"Keeping our schools open is a community effort, and I know many are fatigued by the constant constraints of health and safety requirements to mitigate the spread," she added. "Our community can help BPS schools reopen and stay open, by continuing to follow practices that have kept us open for months. Please continue to limit gatherings, limit social circles, quarantine when exposed, and test as necessary. These strategies, along with masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene and staying home when ill are our best hope to reopen and stay open."