HHS shifts to remote learning after COVID-19 cases prompt staffing shortages


By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Hudson – Three confirmed cases of COVID-19 forced Hudson High School to switch to full time remote learning, starting Oct. 21 and running at least until Nov. 4, Superintendent Marco Rodrigues announced, this month.

Elaborating via an email and through his district’s first School Committee meeting after this news broke, Rodrigues detailed how quarantines triggered severe staffing shortages immediately before he made his decision.

“We are monitoring every aspect of teaching and learning (in-person or remote) and potential impact or disruption related of COVID-19 in all schools,” he wrote in that email to the Community Advocate. “Our goal is to ensure that the least amount of disruption to student learning occur and for that we often need to make adjustments to our practices and protocols.”

Contacted after news of the closure broke, two different HHS teachers confirmed to the Community Advocate that, in fact, 14 school staff were absent on Oct. 20, the day administrators opted to shift to remote learning.

Some were in quarantine. Others were out of work for other reasons.  Still more underwent coronavirus testing over the previous weekend and returned to school for that last in person day after being cleared.

These developments came after three school community members tested positive on Oct. 14 and Oct. 18. In turn, those confirmed cases came within a larger virus surge in Hudson and across the state.

“I think our school is taking every possible precaution, but we can’t control for everything,” one teacher, who prefers to remain anonymous when discussing their district’s response, said. “The community needs to keep up their side of this bargain too so that our community numbers reduce.”

Hudson had 23 active COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 20.

This put the town in Massachusetts’ high-risk category of coronavirus community transmission alongside neighboring communities like Marlborough.

Back in the schools, meanwhile, Rodrigues told School Committee Members, Oct. 27, that the total number of community members sickened by COVID-19 had climbed to 11.

Still, despite all that troubling data, Rodrigues said in his announcement of the HHS switch to remote learning that this was not a reaction to any large outbreak within the school.

“This is a temporary situation caused by a personnel shortage and not due to concerns about the virus spreading amongst our in-person learning community,” he said.

Rodrigues told the School Committee, Oct. 27, that Hudson’s hybrid learning model remains its best option. He added, saying he and the rest of district administrative staff are currently looking into a program to bring testing capabilities into the schools to conduct better surveillance of any COVID-19 spread. That, he explained, could offer another layer of security for in person learners and educators.

Lastly, he did raise concerns about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, imploring students who plan to travel out of state to notify their schools of their plans to allow teachers to properly prepare for students to quarantine on their return home.

It’s a busy time. But through it all, Rodrigues reiterates that he is just excited to get students back into the High School, in particular.

“We are eager to return to our school building on November 5, 2020,” Rodrigues wrote to parents in his initial statement. “We appreciate your partnership as we navigate this unprecedented year.”

Read Superintendent Rodrigues complete statement…https://www.hudson.k12.ma.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=24547150


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