Covid Update: Other Southborough schools in remote learning mode

I’ve been giving occasional updates on how Covid is impacting the public schools of Northborough-Southborough. Now it’s time for an update on the other public school students in town attend and the two private schools based here.

As I wrote this summer, all three schools had different plans for some level of in-person learning this fall. Now, all three have shifted temporarily to fully remote learning.

The vocational school for our district, Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, began hybrid in-person classes in mid-September. On Monday, the school shifted to full remote learning on Monday. The school made the announcement on December 9th, following nine confirmed Covid cases among students/staff in one week. A letter explains that the school doesn’t have a “widespread outbreak” but is taking cautions to prevent one:

Five (5) of these cases were reported as being “in the building” while the other four (4) were identified as being outside of the school building. The highest number of reported positive cases that Assabet has had up until this point has been three (3). . .

As you can imagine, this decision was not easy and several factors have been weighed in making this decision including the current COVID-19 positivity rate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts being at 5.5%, a continual increase positive cases in the communities for which Assabet serves, the addition of the holiday season which is upon us that creates opportunities for gatherings, and lastly, an increase in singular cases being reported at Assabet. Let me be clear that we do not have any widespread outbreak occurring at Assabet at the current time. Simply put, we believe that taking this proactive action will hopefully reduce the risks moving forward so that we can finish out the school year strong.

The plan is for students to return to hybrid mode on January 19th. You can read the full announcement here. You can find other school updates related to Covid here.

Fay School resumed in person classes on September 9th. Boarding students were given the option to attend school through Thanksgiving, then return home for remote schooling through the end of Winter Vacation. On October 9th, the administration announced that the three week fully remote period would also apply to day students. Combined with holiday breaks, it amounts to a six week pause from in-person schooling. The letter to parents explained: 

we believe this is the best way to maintain the health and wellbeing of all of our students, faculty, and staff. We have been made aware that many families will travel during Thanksgiving Vacation, and the short window between the two breaks would make it difficult to ensure sufficient testing and adequate quarantine for those who travel to areas identified as “higher risk” by the Massachusetts Travel Order. The onset of flu season in New England is an additional reason for us not to hold in-person classes. 

The plan is for boarding students to return in early January, with boarders, faculty, staff, and ultimately day students all being tested before school resumes on January 7th.

In August, St. Mark’s School outlined that in-person education would only run from mid-October to Thanksgiving break. Those who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) attend school on campus would participate in remote learning. At that time, students were forewarned that the period between Thanksgiving break and winter break would be fully remote.

On August 18th, I wrote that the announcement made the prior week indicated the return to campus wouldn’t include on-site boarding for students this fall. It appears that was incorrect. Plans on the website dated August 31st show that boarding students were set to return to school for the mid-fall in-person period. It also indicated that classes would be held in a hybrid model.

Currently, the website doesn’t show any school communications on reopening from earlier than my August post. (Which means I can’t verify if plans changed or determine what language I may have misinterpreted.)

At this time, the school’s calendar is indicating that boarding students are scheduled to return by Sunday, January 3rd.

For anyone who hasn’t been following news on Northborough-Southborough Public Schools – the district has been offering parents a choice between fully remote or hybrid in-person learning. (Except for the preschool which is only in-person.) Most hybrid students only attend two days per week in-person. Some students with special needs are in school 3-4 days per week. Next week, all NSBORO schools will be fully remote to allow nursing personnel to pool resources for an optional testing program for Algonquin students.

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