WINTHROP — Chief Inspector Jim Hodgkin and the Winthrop Public School Committee convened an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss steps forward in light of multiple COVID-19 outbreaks since the start of the academic year.
In a memo to school board members, Hodgkin said the school system had reached outbreak status within the first few weeks of school, positive cases have been in double digits since Sept. voltage.
“Our goal is to slow the spread, and right now it feels like we aren’t,” he wrote. “We have to think about options. The (Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention) says we should consider an extended closure of the school.”
On Tuesday, Kelli Deveaux, the spokesman for the Department of Education, said the Winthrop Grade School is currently in an outbreak.
He outlined possible steps the district could take that will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. They are:
• Do nothing at this time, as the ward November 22 and 23 has already turned into distance learning days.
• Change November 22 and 23 to “no school days” and add them to the end of the school year calendar.
• Make the week of November 15 through November 19 remote in addition to November 22 and 23.
• Make the week of November 29 through December 3 secluded, as families can travel abroad for the holidays.
• Beginning January 5, make all Wednesdays parole days, except weeks that are not a five-day school week.
Hodgkin noted that the school district has “implemented every CDC recommendation to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.” Winthrop’s public schools have universal masking, social distancing of at least 3 feet, assigned seating, sanitation, pool testing, and air quality improvements.
In his memo, Hodgkin said the best information available to the district suggests that relaxing any of the strategies to slow the spread will only increase the number of cases, and that should not be considered.
He also recommended making the Winthrop Kid’s Club a school-sponsored activity so that the club must follow the school’s COVID-19 guidelines.
“We’ve said (like the CDC) that our schools are the safest place for our students and staff,” Hodgkin wrote. “However, the spread has not decreased and the stress is increasing exponentially.”
According to the DOE, 2021 enrollment for the Winthrop Public Schools is 816 students across the three schools.
The meeting will be livestreamed via Zoom on Tuesday evening at 4.30 pm and held in person at the city office.
This story is being updated.
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