AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A slight uptick in COVID-19 cases in Hampden and Hampshire counties has resulted in a step back from in-person learning plans, public schools officials announced Wednesday.
Superintendent Michael Morris said they are still monitoring COVID-19 data in the area to measure it against the metrics for in-person learning agreed by the School Committee and the Amherst-Pelham Education Association.
While the data shared in the ARPS Update last Friday met the metrics to continue in-person learning this week, it has shifted since that time. As a result, phase 1 in-person school will continue for the rest of this week to promote consistency and provide time to staff, families, and students to transition back to remote learning, which will start next Monday, October 26 for at least two weeks, as per the agreement cited above.Superintendent Michael Morris
Between 200 and 300 special needs, English language learners, Pre-K through first-grade students had started in-person learning.
“Students are really enjoying being back in,” Morris told 22News. “We have…year olds but we also have 17 and 18-year-olds who are learning English or have more significant disabilities. So it’s good we’ve had a couple of days to be able to work with them and support them in their transition but it is painful.”
Morris pointed out that locally, Amherst, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, and UMass haven’t seen a significant increase in cases, and that’s why the district is allowing students to finish out this week in-class.
“However, there has been a significant increase in cases in Hampden and Hampshire Counties, outside our four towns, that it has pushed the metric over the 28 new cases per week level,” he added.
Starting on Monday, students will learn remotely for up to two weeks, or when the metrics allow.
Phase 1 in-person school will start again on Monday, November 9, if the health metrics are met at that time, Morris said, adding that the new dates for Phases 2 and 3 in-person learning are still being finalized.