Live school updates: News on education and the COVID-19 pandemic in Mass.

The latest on education and the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts.

–Adam Glanzman / Bloomberg

North Andover High School goes fully remote for two weeks after positive cases linked to gatherings outside school (Oct. 23)

Citing “multiple gatherings” with “a complete lack of safety precautions by both adults and students,” North Andover High School has gone fully remote as of Friday and plans to continue with remote learning until Friday, Nov. 6, school officials said in a notification to the community. Athletics are also suspended until Sunday, Nov. 8.

So far, there have been five positive cases at the school and 15 students are under quarantine, the letter said.

All other schools are to remain in a hybrid model, officials said.

“This is not a case of in school transmission, but instead the result of poor choices being made in our community and among our school family,” the letter said. “We have received the results of the swab testing that was conducted to determine the effectiveness of our disinfecting techniques. All school buildings were tested and the results show that our daily disinfecting is working extremely well. Measurements were consistently well below the recommended levels. We will continue to do our best to ensure a safe environment for our students and staff.”

State shuts down indoor ice hockey, skating due to rising COVID-19 cases connected to rink activities in Mass. (Oct. 23)

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued an order Thursday shutting down indoor ice rinks and ice skating facilities through Nov. 7, citing rising COVID-19 cases connected to indoor ice hockey. 

“This order is in response to multiple COVID-19 clusters occurring at rinks throughout the state following games, practices and tournaments,” the state said in a statement. “Neighboring states including New Hampshire have enacted similar temporary restrictions regarding indoor ice hockey.”

According to DPH, there have been at least 30 clusters of coronavirus associated with organized ice hockey activities and events, involving residents from more than 60 municipalities across the state. Each of the clusters included two or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, with a total 108 confirmed virus cases connected to the rink activities. 

“This order includes all indoor ice rinks and ice skating facilities in Massachusetts,” the state said. “These rinks and facilities may not operate during this temporary two-week pause. It is effective between 5 p.m. on October 23, 2020, and 12:01 a.m. on November 7, 2020. College and professional programs are exempt from this order.”

12 BU students suspended for the rest of the semester after loud parties, and not following COVID-19 protocols (Oct. 22)

A dozen Boston University students have been suspended for the rest of the semester following three “loud” parties earlier this month that included lack of social distancing or face masks, according to BU Today.

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The university said the parties, which were held on Oct. 3 at off-campus housing in Allston, included a physical assault – someone threw a beer can that struck a building, bounced off and hit another student – and “the smashing of a toilet seat in the street,” among other noise.

The three parties took place between 3 p.m. and 1 a.m. that day, and each of the students disciplined attended at least one of them, the university said. Another five students were placed on deferred suspension for the rest of the year.

“The suspended students will not receive a tuition refund, and when they return for spring semester, they will also be on deferred suspension, a status where any subsequent rules violation results in full suspension,” BU Today said. 

Six students received a deferred suspension after a party in late September, BU Today reported in the past. A total of 20 students were seen at a gathering that included underage drinking. The six students disciplined were responsible for the alcohol found on scene and for “most of the mask violations,” the university said. The remaining 14 were not disciplined.

Boston University students will need COVID-19 test badges to enter some campus spaces starting Thursday (Oct. 21)

Students at BU must begin carrying a green badge, or an email saying that they’ve completed a daily COVID-19 attestation, to be able to enter dining halls, the George Sherman Union, and some other public areas of the campus, beginning on Thursday, according to university officials.

In a message to the community, Dr. Jean Morrison, BU’s provost and chief academic officer, and Gary Nicksa, senior vice president of operations, said students need to make sure they’re getting testing as frequently as the campus program’s mandate, and that they are completing the daily symptom attestation.

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Students are also urged to continue maintaining social distancing and to not attend any gatherings in “small, indoor spaces.”

Officials said in the letter they’re concerned about “a worrisome increase in the daily numbers of cases among our student body, as well as our staff, over the last week.”

“Although the number of cases per day is still relatively low, our growing concern is also driven by the number of cases in Massachusetts and lower-than-targeted compliance with the mandatory requirement for testing and daily symptom attestation,” the letter said. “An analysis of our cases shows a critically important driver for the increasing infection rate is the number of social gatherings (on and off campus), as well as personal travel and off-campus visits with family and friends where participants do not adhere to physical distancing and wearing face masks.”

The university has already used the badge program for the Dean of Students Office, as well as the fitness center, and the Howard Thurman Center for Common Good, according to officials.

Some Worcester parents unhappy with school plans (Oct. 20)

Most Worcester students aren’t planned to return to school in person until early next year, and some parents are unhappy about that.

And even when they head back, the district plans for most students to attend in-person instruction for one day a week, district plans show.

Students attending a vocational program or those with special learning needs are planned to head back on Nov. 16, according to the plans. These hybrid models include one day a week for some and up to four days per week for others.

The rest of the district is planned to begin hybrid learning on Jan. 25 or Feb. 1, the plans show, and this includes the one day a week of in-person school.

“If parents don’t want to send their kids to school for safety reasons, great, fine, but some children and teens need to go back to school as soon as possible,” one parent said during a virtual meeting with officials on Monday, according to WHDH.

Another voiced concern overs students’ mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

One parent did, however, voice concerns over health.

“I understand that everyone has to work, I understand that kids need that social interaction and that on-hand learning, but their health is more important than just that,” they said according to the news station.

Malden school switches to remote learning after staffers test positive for COVID-19 (Oct. 19)

A Malden school has switched to remote learning, and could remain that way for a couple weeks, after some staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Malden Superintendent John Oteri didn’t say how many staffers at the Linden S.T.E.A.M. Academy had tested positive in a message to the community on Sunday but urged anyone who was in the school within the last week to get a COVID-19 test. The city’s Board of Health is also working on contact tracing and planned to reach out to anyone who was a close contact with those infected, according to a Facebook post.

Good Morning Linden Families. This is Superintendent of Schools John Oteri with an important message. I am calling to…

Posted by Linden S.T.E.A.M. Academy PTO on Sunday, October 18, 2020

The superintendent had reported that one staff member had tested positive as of Friday and classes were switched to remote learning that day.

“The health and safety of staff and students remains our top priority and we will keep you informed with additional information as soon as it becomes available,” the superintendent said in the posts.

Good morning, this is Superintendent Oteri with an important message for families. Late last evening we were informed…

Posted by Linden S.T.E.A.M. Academy PTO on Friday, October 16, 2020


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