ROCKPORT — Due to COVID-19 concerns, Rockport students won't be physically back in school until month's end at the earliest.
"We're still going to do remote," Superintendent Rob Liebow said Friday. "We'll check back in in two weeks."
Students resumed remote learning last Monday, following the winter holiday break.
School officials have a hard rule; if average reported cases exceed 16 per 1,000 people, in-school learning stops.
According the two latest state Department of Public Health studies, issued on Dec. 31 and Jan. 7, respectively, there were 34.9 reported cases per 1,000 people in both Gloucester and Rockport between Dec. 12 and Jan. 2. Gloucester students make up nearly one fourth of the Rockport student body.
Last week's average is the highest reported average since Rockport public schools transitioned into hybrid learning midway through November. Up until Tuesday, Dec. 15, students were in school two days a week and spent the remaining three days at home with remote learning. That changed when the state reported Dec. 10 that there were 26.8 reported cases per 1,000 residents between Nov. 22 to Dec. 5.
In its Jan. 7 report, the state said there were 167 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among Rockport residents, up from 164 last Monday, when the town reported 22 of the cases were active. The town also reported Monday that among the confirmed cases, 48 were among residents of long-term care and congregate living facilities and 140 residents who had gotten the coronavirus had recovered. At least 19 residents have died of the virus while 6,100 residents had been tested as of last Tuesday.
Liebow previously told the Times he hoped school would be back in session following winter break, but the holiday season could make things difficult.
The Department of Public Health issues its latest COVID-19 reports every Thursday, the same day the Rockport School Committee has its weekly meetings. Each study tallies the number of cases reported within a 15-day period, beginning on the Saturday two weeks prior to the report's release day.
Liebow said the School Committee will base its decision on whether to reopen the schools based on the data from Jan. 2 to 16. This report is scheduled to be released Thursday, Jan. 21.
As Mondays are remote-only days for all students, the earliest schools may reopen is Tuesday, Jan. 26.
Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or firstname.lastname@example.org.