WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Three members of the Fausey Elementary School community in West Springfield have tested positive for COVID-19, the mayor announced Wednesday.
Now, some in-person learning is being sidelined and parent’s feelings are still mixed about whether they feel safe having their child return to school during the pandemic.
The elementary school is delaying its reopening after two staff members and one student tested positive for COVID-19. The school has been mostly remote, with some high-need students learning in the classroom. Mayor Will Reichelt said there are more contacts awaiting test results.
Mayor Will Reichelt said, “We want to make sure that we know what the status of everyone is before we start bringing students in. The last thing we want is to bring students back and have more teachers end up testing positive and then there’s community spread throughout the school, and then we will never be able to get back.”
We are following all Department of Public Health and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education protocols, including collaborating with our local health department to complete contact tracing. We have been anticipating this scenario and have a comprehensive plan in place. We will be contacting persons who are considered close contacts to these individuals so that they are aware of the necessary steps to quarantine as well as where they can go to be tested. It is our first responsibility to keep our students and staff safe!Will Reichelt, Mayor of West Springfield
Elementary school students district-wide are slated to return to class in a hybrid model this coming Monday. That won’t be happening for students at Fausey.
“Due to the level of exposure and the number of faculty required to quarantine for 14 days, Fausey School will need to remain in full remote until November 5. On November 5, Cohort B students in grades 1 and 2 will begin in-person instruction with Cohort A Grades 1 and 2 beginning on November 9. Additionally, Grades 3-5 will begin as previously scheduled the week of November 9,” Mayor Reichelt explained.
West Springfield resident Tony Sorcinelli told 22News, “So to hear that there is a case of COVID to me is no different than in years past hearing that there is a case of the flu. With the proper safety precautions we can return to school full time safely.”
Not all parents agree though. According to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads more easily than the flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer.
“I prefer her remote,” Destiny Flores of Springfield said. “Remote all the way–especially because I have an infant. No. Not right now no. they can’t even keep out the flu, the common cold, let alone something big like this.”
The school undergoes cleaning and disinfecting each night, the mayor said. It already had a deep cleaning this week. Officials said the school is working closely with the local health department as well as following state COVID-19 safety protocols to ensure everyones safety.
“Additionally, we are asking individuals who are tested for COVID-19 to please report the results to the school nurse and send a copy of the test results,” Mayor Reichelt said. “These measures, taken in combination, greatly reduce the risk of additional transmission.”
Mayor Reichelt posted a letter from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Wednesday morning approving West Springfield’s phased plan for an eventual full return to in-person learning and there will not be an audit of West Springfield. The letter was posted before the announcement about COVID-19 cases at Fausey Elementary.
The letter states the following:
- High needs students are currently attending in person
- Early childhood through second grade will return on October 26
- Third through fifth grade will return on November 9
Reichelt said in the post that there will be an update about when grades 6/9/12 will return to in-person learning at the next school committee meeting.