Two students test positive for COVID-19 at Hopkins Academy

  • —GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2020 2:57:18 PM

HADLEY — Two Hopkins Academy students who have been attending in-person classes at the school tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, according to a letter sent to families by Superintendent Annie McKenzie this week.

The coronavirus infections are the first identified among Hadley students and staff in the buildings this fall, where instruction has been taking place since Oct. 26.

But McKenzie said on Tuesday that even with the positive tests there is no evidence of school transmission and that the methods to promote health and safety and limit any spread of illness, such as wearing masks and keeping at least six feet apart at all times, appear to be working well.

“The presence of a positive case is not synonymous with transmission,” McKenzie said.

In the letter, McKenzie notes that the district is providing information beyond what it is obligated to by the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We realize that families appreciate having as much information as possible regarding COVID-19; therefore we have decided to notify families when we have positive cases regardless of whether or not the positive case is remote or in person,” McKenzie wrote.

Hadley schools are using what is known as a cohort model, with students having the opportunity to be in school each day. The model, though, has meant only a small number of students at Hopkins Academy are actually in the building in a format that McKenzie has described as “essentially remote learning, but in person.” These students, making up about 25% of the student body, participate in classes online like their peers, but have access to adults in the building.

At Hadley Elementary School, on the other hand, more than eight in 10 students are in the building daily.

In a weekly report to families, McKenzie also shares data provided by school districts in Hampshire County and southern Franklin County to the state’s education department. This data shows that, between Nov. 5 and Nov. 27, seven students and eight staff members received COVID-19 positive tests at other schools where in-person instruction is taking place.

Schools are not required to report cases among students who are learning in fully remote settings, and only have to notify the state about cases for staff who are in the buildings within seven days prior to a report of a positive test.

In Hatfield, where one student tested positive for COVID-19, the district opted to move all students at Hatfield Elementary School and Smith Academy to remote instruction before Thanksgiving break, after previously using a hybrid model with students at the buildings two days a week.

McKenzie said contact tracing was done immediately to make sure people who may have been in close contact with the students in the school building were notified.

Additional contact tracing is being done outside the school, according to McKenzie’s letter: “Close contacts of the individuals will be contacted by the school nurse, Board of Health, or the Contact Tracing Collaborative.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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