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Lowell switches to remote learning, cancels trick-or-treating due to rising COVID-19 cases

Lowell High School.
Lowell High School.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Students in the Lowell Public Schools will switch to remote learning and will not be allowed to go trick-or-treating on Halloween because of the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

The city was taking the step after Lowell was coded “red” or “high risk” for a third consecutive week in the state’s weekly COVID-19 public health report. It will shift to full remote learning beginning Monday, officials wrote on the school district’s website.

"Students currently attending school in-person will continue to attend in-person for the remainder of this week and each school will be reaching out to students and families to support the transition to remote learning.”

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School officials said they are continuing to review “possible options for students in smaller, substantially separate special education programs to continue to attend in-person.”

The officials said the decision to shut down classrooms and switch to a virtual learning model was not made lightly.

“We understand how disappointing and disruptive this decision can be for our families,” school officials wrote. “However, in consultation with the Lowell Board of Health, and following the guidance provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, this decision was determined to be necessary as a preventative health measure based on the community-wide spread of COVID-19 in Lowell.”

As of Oct. 14, Lowell had 3,712 confirmed COVID-19 cases, which is a rate of 3,344 per 100,000 people.

“In every decision that we make, the health and safety of our students, staff and families will be our top priority. Moving forward, we will continue to consult with local health professionals to analyze at least three weeks of data before making a determination about resuming in-person learning. We will continue to keep you updated and provide advanced notice before any potential change to our learning model," the officials wrote.

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City officials are also prohibiting door-to-door trick-or-treating this year.

“Trick-or-treating is considered a high-risk activity by the CDC,” officials wrote on the city of Lowell’s Facebook page. “Lowell is currently classified as ‘red’ under the state’s COVID-19 risk designation system and has experienced a significant increase in new cases of COVID-19 among residents over recent weeks.”

City officials said that due to those factors, permitting trick-or-treating would “pose a substantial public health risk to the community" and recommended that residents avoid indoor gatherings as well.

“Lowell residents are urged to consider public health guidance and to take precautions intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when making alternative plans to celebrate Halloween,” city officials wrote. “Indoor gatherings including costume parties or haunted houses where people may be crowded together are considered high risk activities by the CDC, and should be avoided.”


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.