By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer
Marlborough—The School Committee voted unanimously to move back the hybrid start date for Grades 3 – 12 to Tuesday, Jan. 19 following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday starting with Cohort B. This allows approximately two weeks following the holidays for any possible positive cases to have time to get tested or to quarantine before returning to school. Students that were in school full-time, Pre-K-Grade 2, EL 1 & 2, will return, as scheduled, on Monday, Jan. 11.
The concern expressed by all members of the committee was the potential of positive cases during the holidays and that people may have not been tested or be asymptomatic and return to school causing potential spread of COVID-19.
Superintendent advocates return to classroom
Superintendent Michael Bergeron said he would “strongly advocate” to keep the students that were previously in classes (full-time) in school on the scheduled post-holiday date.
“They need to be in classrooms to be successful,” he added.
Currently, Bergeron explained, there are 22 students that are positive and that one classroom at the 1LT Charles W. Whitcomb School, as of Christmas Eve, had been quarantined but that quarantine period has ended. He went on to say that 11 cases were elementary students, and 11 cases were secondary students.
Teacher Eileen Barry, on behalf of the Marlborough Educators Association, suggested the possibility of Grades 3 -12 returning on a staggered schedule, adding that there was anxiety among teachers. However, Mayor Arthur Vigeant, who chairs the committee, said he didn’t want to “flip flop” and wanted to give parents time to plan. Vigeant acknowledged that while remote learning is “a good thing for students’ physical health it maybe isn’t for their mental health.”
“I feel like this is just the hardest set of decisions we continue to make,” expressed Committee Vice Chair Michelle Boden-Hettinger. “We don’t have a crystal ball.”
Some test kits received
The District has received a portion of the 4,000 testing kits that are on the way so that symptomatic students and staff can be tested, Bergeron explained. He said the tests have a quick, 15-minute, turnaround for results and that if someone tests positive, they’ll be asked to follow up with the PCR (nose swab) test. He said the Board of Health and city physician have reviewed the information of the particular test kits and said the results had a high rate of accuracy. A third-party company will have to send emails to parents at the start of this semester requesting permission to administer the test if need be and the information would be kept on file.