SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With COVID-19 rates across the state and city being on the rise, new developments have been made for Springfield Public Schools in relation to school bus transportation, COVID-19 school based notification protocols, winter sports, and added support for school nurses.

“We have to take the precautions that are necessary in order to save lives,” said Helen Caulton-Harris, Commissioner of the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Springfield Department of HHS along with Springfield Public Schools announced Monday afternoon that there will be a temporary pause on all winter sports beginning Tuesday, December 21st. There is no word on when winter sports will resume but school and health officials will reconvene to discuss the topic after the holiday break.

In addition, schools will also no longer contact the entire school community when there is a verified positive COVID-19 case in their building. Schools will instead reach out directly to students and staff who are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the school.

However, some parents don’t agree with the change in policy. Amanda Thompson has a son in a Springfield School. She also works with school aged children in a local afterschool program.

“As a parent, think I would like to know. If it doesn’t directly affect my son, it shouldn’t be such a worry, but the way everything is going on, a heads up is nice,” said Thompson.

Also announced Monday, the company that provides bus transportation to the district will have delays in pick up and drop off times for the rest of the week. These delays are due to the First Student COVID-19 safety protocols. The company stated that an increase in employees reporting as having been in close contact or having contracted COVID-19 has left many bus driver positions vacant as employees quarantine and self isolate.

Springfield Public Schools are also welcoming eight members of the National Guard to assist the SPS nursing on an as-needed basis. The added assistance will allow test measures to take place as early in the school day as possible, allowing anyone who tests positive to leave the building as soon as possible. Members of the community are urged to monitor the Staying Safe in School page on the SPS website for ongoing updates.

Springfield Public Schools saw 240 positive COVID-19 cases last week, this compared to mid-October where only 50 cases were reported.