Peabody Closed March 18 and COVID Updates

March 17, 2022

Dear Families:

I write to share updates on the current COVID status in the schools.  As you know, we have been watching an outbreak at Peabody in grade 6.  All other schools continue to have low COVID counts, including Sanborn.  Today, we had another 8 cases at Peabody, bringing the total this week to 44.

In addition to the COVID cases, we have been carefully watching attendance rates as well.  There are small upticks or no changes in the K-5 schools, Sanborn, and CCHS.  Today, we faced a 30% absentee rate at Peabody.  Regardless of what illness (i.e.flu, or stomach virus) caused that rate, we would be reviewing where we are at and what makes sense next.

I spent the morning communicating with local public health officials and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Following those discussions, it was decided to close Peabody just for tomorrow to allow for a chance for ill students to recover, instruction to occur consistently, and to reduce any remaining virus transmission.  Given that it is a school closure, there will be a half-day makeup day in June.  Again, we would react the same if it were a flu or stomach virus outbreak that grew to this extent.  We expect to be fully operational at all schools on Monday.

We are very grateful that all ill students and staff with COVID have mild flu-like symptoms.  In addition, all grade 6 students and staff have been provided antigen tests to test at home on Monday morning or if they become symptomatic.  Out of an abundance of caution, we will thoroughly clean the Peabody building tomorrow.

All other schools will operate normally and remain mask optional tomorrow.  No one can quite explain why these events are occurring in such an isolated way so far.  Clearly, exposure at school played a role. We will continue to work with health officials and DESE to determine any other necessary mitigation steps.

We are available to answer your questions or concerns and, as always, appreciate your support and patience as we continue to face unexpected situations.