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RI HEALTH

Coventry High School shifts to remote learning, early release due to rising COVID cases

COVENTRY, R.I. — Coventry school officials announced the high school will hold remote classes through Tuesday and shift to an early release schedule Thursday due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

There have been 37 new positive cases identified at Coventry High School among students, faculty and staff since the beginning of the school year, including 21 reported over the last two weeks, assistant superintendent Don Cowart wrote in a statement posted on the district’s website Monday.

“Many of these cases have just been brought to the school’s attention over the last few days and case investigation/contact tracing has not been completed,” wrote Cowart.

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After a planned professional development day on Wednesday, where students will be home with asynchronous learning, the school will shift to a 12:30 p.m. early release schedule and they will have “grab and go” lunches. The school will then revisit the schedule following further guidance from the state health department after officials meet with department staff.

Cowart said students should only be unmasked during lunch, and the early release time temporarily eliminates the opportunity for the virus to spread while students are eating.

“Once cases significantly decrease, we will revisit the schedule and decide the next course of action,” he wrote.

A letter explaining the situation and the matter’s urgency was sent to CHS families, Cowart said. The letter requested families continue to get tested, follow masking guidelines, stay home when sick, and notify the school and the state health department of positive cases.

There is also a testing event at the high school scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. Parents of students under the age of 16 will need to provide consent.

Student athletes will be able to participate in athletic events as long as they can produce a vaccination card, recent negative PCR test, and are asymptomatic, according to Cowart. But spectators at home events are limited to parents until the contact tracing phase is complete.

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“The decision to move to distance learning was made so the school personnel can continue contact tracing the cases that have already been identified and to notify close contacts,” wrote Cowart. “Doing this while the building is empty of students gives all the administrative staff, nursing staff and clerks to assist with the process, time to complete the process without interruption and keeps the students safely at home. One positive case can take many hours to investigate and communicate with close contacts.”


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.