Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School has moved to fully remote learning through Nov. 6 after four people connected to the school tested positive for the coronavirus, school officials said Monday.
In a letter to students and families, Superintendent Sheila M. Harrity said the decision to begin remote learning was based on “the unacceptable number of students and staff having to quarantine as close contacts" and recent reports of community coronavirus spread within Fitchburg.
School officials told the community last week about two cases among people who had been at the school in person, and Harrity said Monday they had learned overnight about two additional cases.
The school is working to contact trace the cases and inform anyone who may have been near the infected people and will need to quarantine.
The Montachusett district also serves students from Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Barre, Gardner, Harvard, Holden, Hubbardston, Lunenburg, Petersham, Phillipston, Princeton, Royalston, Sterling, Templeton, Westminster, and Winchendon.
“Please know that this was not an easy decision for the administration to make,” Harrity wrote. “We fully recognize that, as a vocational school, in-person learning is an essential element to ensuring that our students become proficient in the skills related to their trade.”
But, Harrity continued, after consulting with health officials, “we feel that this temporary two-week period of remote learning will allow an opportunity for a number of events to occur." Students and faculty will be able to “complete their time in isolation,” she wrote, and school workers will have a chance to thoroughly clean the building.
Harrity urged the school community to continue following coronavirus-related safety precautions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are becoming increasingly aware of situations where family travel and participation in non-school related activities are leading to potential exposure to the virus,” she wrote. “I would again ask that we all remain as vigilant as possible to ensure that our communities and schools remain safe.”
Milton High School also pivoted to fully remote learning this week after a rise in coronavirus cases — and the subsequent need for many people to quarantine out of precaution — left the school understaffed.