As Mayor Romeo Theken announced an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Gloucester this past week, a number of those infected by the virus were isolated cases in the city’s schools.
Gloucester High School Principal James Cook announced on Monday that two members of the school’s community had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Monday was also the first day of split-day hybrid learning for the high school, whose students had been learning remotely as school administrators ironed out details of education in the era of COVID.
The news of the two positive cases was first reported by the high school’s student newspaper, The Gillnetter, which quoted an email from Superintendent Ben Lummis and Cook.
“It is not unexpected to have positive cases in our schools,” the email read. “We have been planning for this scenario during our reopening planning process, and have already done the following: sanitized the necessary areas in the school building, informed the small number of staff and families whose students were in close contact with the two people who tested positive, and supported the affected people as they navigate this stressful experience.”
Neither Cook nor Lummis returned a call and email from the Times in time for publication.
The Pathways for Children's Emerson Avenue site has also been affected by the virus as has East Gloucester Elementary School.
"In spite of of months of preparation and adherence to protocols, the Board of Health notified us yesterday, Oct. 12, that an individual that was on site on Friday, Oct. 9, has tested positive for the virus," a statement from Pathway's Laura O'Neill read.
Upon hearing the news of the case, Pathways has:
- Notified all staff and parents of the Emerson Avenue location of the positive test on the evening of Oct. 12.
- Deep cleaned on Oct. 12
- Maintained contact between agency staff and the Gloucester Board of Health.
A number of other precautionary measures have been taken to ensure everyone's safety at the day care agency, including limiting who is allowed in the building, daily temperature checks, a staggered arrival schedule, and a mandate that masks must be worn at all times and strict hand washing be practiced.
Lummis and East Gloucester Elementary School principal Amy Pasquarello announced last week that there had been a positive case at the school.
“Our first responsibility is to keep our students and staff safe so we are making sure families and staff hear directly from the principal and superintendent,” Pasquarello wrote in a letter to parents and guardians. “We have been planning for this scenario during our reopening planning process.”
The school administration has noted that those who were considered to be close contact with infected individuals — within 6 feet for at least 15 consecutive minutes — will be contacted separately by the Health Department.