December 5, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
An email sent to Plymouth River School families this afternoon titled "Urgent Message from PRS -- remote learning Dec. 7 & 8" notifies parents that "out of an abundance of caution," Plymouth River Elementary School will pivot to a remote learning platform for at least Monday, Dec. 7, and Tuesday, Dec. 8, following four members of the PRS school community testing positive for COVID-19 during the past week.
"After consulting with the [Massachusetts] Department of Public Health, Department of Education, and the Hingham Health Department, we feel that this decision is in the best interest of our students and staff," states the letter, which was signed by Principal Melissa Smith, Assistant Principal Charleen Fabrizio, and School Nurse Deb Whiting.
This letter follows Supt. of Schools Paul Austin's decision, after consulting with the above departments, to designate PRS as fully remote next Monday and Tuesday, according to an email he sent to the school community this afternoon addressing the PRS situation.
"As has been the case across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this week has been a challenging one for the Hingham Public Schools community, with several new COVID-19 cases reported across the district," Austin's letter reads in part. "Of greatest concern is the news of four positive cases this week at Plymouth River School."
Members of the PRS community can expect to receive additional information from school administration, including updates as they become available.
During the next few days, school administrators will work on contact tracing, which may include students and staff in various grade levels. PRS will be closed to all K-5 students and staff in order for a deep-cleaning to take place and to allow time for the town's contact tracing team to gather more information.
The Hingham Health Department has a contact tracing program in place in accordance with state requirements, which involves notifying those who have come into contact with individuals who have tested positive.
"Any member of our school community who is considered to be a close contact per Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance will be contacted as soon as possible," Austin states in his email. "This news offers another strong reminder that members of our school community must remain vigilant, both in and out of school, and continue to make efforts to be physically distant, follow safety protocols, and wear masks."
PRS administrators and the school nurse state in their email that they "understand that this shift in learning poses additional challenges for families and staff, but at this time, safety remains the number one priority. We will communicate updates when we have more information and/or when further decisions are made."