HARWICH – Two Monomoy Regional High School students and a chaperone were inadvertently extended during an April school holiday to London after being tested positive for COVID-19, according to Monomoy Regional School Superintendent Scott Carpenter.
The infections occurred as the incidence of the BA.2 variant increased in the northeastern part, prompting school officials to keep a watchful eye on possible further increases after the school holidays.
Last week’s April break marked the first time high school-sponsored international travel has taken place since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Carpenter said.
He said the three tested positive on April 21, a day before they were to fly out and return home.
“Everyone was vaccinated and everyone had mild symptoms,” Carpenter said. “… If you’re going abroad now, test negative to get back to the US”
Knowing that there was a possibility of infection abroad, the school officials made sure that the travel company responsible for logistics, EF Toursmade contingency plans to cover the change in travel arrangements and extend hotel stays at no extra cost to affected travelers, Carpenter said.
An uninfected chaperone also went abroad to handle logistics, and EF Tours made sure two parents flew to London to be with their children, Carpenter said.
“We had it all planned that someone could stay behind. The change of flight flights was covered and flying parents were covered,” he explained.
“Today, everyone will come home, just a little later than they had hoped,” he said Wednesday.
Another group of Monomoy students and chaperones visited Costa Rica during the school break, and all returned home on schedule, Carpenter said.
An Monomoy Regional School District employee was stranded in Bermuda after testing positive at the end of the school holidays, he said.
“It’s not a bad place to be stranded, except you’re stuck in your hotel room,” Carpenter said.
Monomoy Regional School Committee-approved trips to England and Costa Rica demonstrate “we are starting to get back to the normality we had before COVID,” Carpenter said.
Most of the students and the chaperone tested negative on quick tests before boarding their plane home.
COVID cases in Massachusetts schools, including the Monomoy Regional School District, are on the rise as the highly contagious BA.2 variant continues to spread in the Northeast.
Monomoy had 25 cases of COVID-19 among staff and students in the week leading up to the school holidays, 15 more than the previous week, Carpenter said. He said from Wednesday that 35 students and staff had COVID-19 after the school holidays.
Statistics from the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show that 3,245 Massachusetts elementary school students and staff had new cases of COVID-19 in the period 24-30. March, a figure that rose to 5,363 for the period 7.-13. April.
The figures after the holiday were scheduled to be released on Thursday.