A New Hampshire high school has opted to move to fully remote learning after 56 of its 400 or so students contracted COVID-19.
The Raymond School Board voted Wednesday to go remote for at least two days and possibly through the end of next week, the Union Leader reported. The board also voted to require masks as the elementary and middle schools.
Raymond, located in the southern part of New Hampshire, is the first school in the state to make the move. The school has reportedly been dealing with coronavirus clusters since the last week of September.
Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut issued a statement Thursday in response to the Raymond School Board's decision, stressing that his preference is for schools to continue with in-person instruction if possible.
"“The Department of Education understands that families have legitimate concerns about COVID-19, and we are empathetic to those impacted by the virus," he said. "As we continue to work with school districts and have ongoing dialogue with school administrators, I am acutely aware that these decisions being made at the local level impact children, parents, teachers, work schedules and more."
"While all of these factors must be weighed, we have learned throughout the past year that most students are happy and learn best during in-person instruction, which provides them with the greatest opportunities for success," Edelblut added. "Remote learning should be a last resort, and should only be in place for a short period of time if found to be absolutely necessary for safety reasons."
New Hampshire reported 528 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and one additional death. There are currently 130 people hospitalized with the coronavirus.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have now been a total of 123,562 cases in New Hampshire and nearly 1,500 deaths.