Reading, MA – Yesterday afternoon, Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Doherty announced in a new Pathways blog post that he was moving RMHS to remote learning for the remainder of the week leading up to Winter Vacation’s discovery of seven new positive COVID-19 cases within the school. Within the past two days, five students and two staff have tested positive for the virus, the highest two-day total the Reading Public School System has seen in any district’s schools.
“In addition, we have reason to believe that we may have had an in-school transmission for the first time this year. Through our contact tracing, several students and staff will need to be quarantined, including members of the gymnastics team,” said Doherty in the blog post.
The decision to move to remote learning for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the upcoming week comes after 13 RMHS students and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 this week alone. So far this week, over 53 students within RMHS have been asked to quarantine after possible exposure to the virus.
“After consultation with our Director of Nurses, High School Administration, and Central Office Administrators, I have decided, out of an abundance of caution, that we will be going fully remote at Reading Memorial High School, including for our high needs students, for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week. In addition, all in-person athletics and extra-curricular activities will be canceled for the next three days. Kate Boynton will be sending out some follow up information later today,” said Doherty in the blog post.
Reading was classified as a “red” district on Thursday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, marking it as a high-risk area for COVID-19 transmission. According to the state, 185 cases of COVID-19 were reported within Reading within the last 14 days.
However, this new color rating does not mean that all schools in the town have to pause their in-person learning. At the beginning of November, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education revised its guidance for operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that schools should prioritize in-person learning regardless of their color rating unless it is suspected that transmission of the virus is occurring in the school. This is the first time that Reading school officials have suspected that the COVID-19 virus may have been transmitted within an RPS facility.
Dr. Doherty closed his blog post by stating that if anyone had any questions, they should feel free to contact him at John.firstname.lastname@example.org.