School Supt.Michael Flanagan received strong backing from School Committee members at a special meeting on Thursday night to discuss reopening the school.
No vote was required of board members. However, Committee member Robert Mullen was happy the meeting was held so that any parents who wish can view the meeting online “to see that we’re all working together to make sure their kids are safe.”
Flanagan closed the school from March 29 through April 2 and elementary school students were expected to participate in full remote learning.
As he spoke to the board, he commended school nurses for the work they have been doing “24-7” to stay on top of what’s happening. He also pleaded with parents to cooperate with the nurses when they’re doing contact racing.
Over the course of two days during the previous week, several students in one class tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
When Flanagan made the decision to close, school nurses were tracking a total of 108 cases, including 10 students who tested positive and others who were close contacts, in quarantine, or showing symptoms. At mid-day on April 1, that number was down to 58. By April 5, that number is predicted to be down to 23.
“The numbers ticked up. We responded and they’re starting to fall,” the superintendent said.
Asked by Committee member Julie Guastucci if the numbers might go up again,” he answered, “That is the concern every day at every school.”
Tyngsboro is fully compliant with state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and CDC guidance on school openings and its “mitigation strategies are above and beyond what DESE requires, Flanagan assured the board at the beginning of the meeting.
The 10-days of shutdown gave time for students to drop off the tracking lists, Flanagan said. Positive cases should be down to 3 when the school reopens.
The climb in cases at the elementary school reflected a town-wide uptick. And Flanagan said that Tyngsboro would be ‘red’ when the state releases numbers for this week.
“There was also an uptick among remote learners. Kids are gathering,” the superintendent said, noting the proximity of venues like Skate 3, the Sports Center, and the Pheasant Lane Mall.
The school department is reviewing recess, hallway traffic flow and transportation policies.
School buses provide lots of opportunities for close contact, so the superintendent urged, “Please drive your kids to school if you can.”
He also urged parents “to keep students at home if they’re not feeling well. We need to come together as a community. Let’s do what we need to do.”
Parents were to receive an email from Flanagan on Friday explaining the decision.