Across Cape Town, dozens of students infected or exposed to COVID-19 stayed at home when schools reopened this week after the holidays.
But unlike Wareham Public Schools, which canceled classes on Monday due to the number of sick staff, Cape Town public schools have remained open.
“We are seeing a very large number of students this week – over 100 students are currently infected with COVID and many (are) as a result of the exposure,” said Barnstable Schools’ health services director Alicia. Bryant, in an email.
“We have reported more than 200 cases of students and staff” since December 26, she said, adding that many more would still be isolated if health officials had not recently cut back the period of isolation required.
Barnstable Public Schools made test kits available to students as part of a statewide test kit distribution to 102 communities, including Barnstable, Dennis, Eastham and Orleans on Cape Cod.
âThe students in the PK-7 classes were all sent home with test kits before the break, and the high school kids had the option to take test kits home,â said Bryant.
In addition, nearly 600 COVID-19 home test kits were distributed to staff over the weekend as part of a distribution of 200,000 test kits by the State Department of Elementary Education and secondary, she said.
DESE officials originally planned to distribute two tests per person – each kit contains two tests – but ended up asking schools to assign two people per test kit due to supply chain issues.
Staff at Upper Cape Regional Technical School in Bourne used the kits as they sat in their vehicles on Monday morning before classes began, Upper Cape Superintendent Roger Forget said.
âWe only had two staff members who were positive,â he said.
Sandwich School superintendent Pamela Gould said a few staff members have dated COVID-19 but the number is “not much more than before the holidays.”
âNo replacement education for me at this time,â Gould said in an email.
Student attendance improved between Monday and Tuesday, she said.
âThe attendance of students in STEM was 86% and that of high school 90%. Forestdale has gone from 107 student absences yesterday to 70 today, âGould said Tuesday.
The Nauset Regional School District used Monday as a teacher professional development day.
When classes resumed Tuesday, 55 students had been released with COVID-19 and 87 were absent due to other issues associated with COVID-19, such as being in close contact with an infected person, said Brooke A. Clenchy, Acting Superintendent of the Nauset Regional School District. .
âOur staff continues to be similar to pre-winter break staff,â she said in an email. On Monday, 14 staff from the Nauset Regional School District were absent because they had contracted or had been exposed to COVID-19, Clenchy said.
Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou, superintendent of Bourne public schools, said the district was seeing “an increase in absences due to exposure” which is similar to the trend that was occurring before the holidays.
State-provided rapid antigen tests were available to teachers and staff on Sunday and Monday morning, she said.
The Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District distributed home tests and state-provided masks to staff on Sunday and Monday morning, DY Superintendent Carol Woodbury said.
Woodbury said she expected some student absences to be due to infection or exposure to COVID, as well as unease about returning to class during a wave.
“Some may not have returned from vacation” due to canceled flights, she said.
Paul Marble, principal of Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis, said student attendance on Monday was around 80%, but absences were not just due to COVID-19.
Only about 5% of absent students were in quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or close contact with someone who had it, he said.
Most Cape Town schools – including Sturgis – run a DESE-sponsored ‘test and stay’ program that allows students who are close school contacts of someone with COVID-19 to attend class. ‘they are negative on a rapid antigen test at school that morning.
But only a fraction of parents and guardians have signed up to allow their children to participate in the program.
Bryant said only 30% of students in the Barnstable School District are registered for the test and are staying for now.
While many parents don’t proactively enroll, they tend to consent to the test once their child has been identified as a close contact at school, Bryant said.
Gould said she didn’t like the “test and stay” link of consent to the parents of the Sandwich students on Sunday night. “We will know in a few days if these numbers increase.”
Paul Niles, principal of Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in East Harwich, said he approved of efforts to keep students in school, but said educators were concerned about the increase in COVID- cases. 19 this winter.
âCertainly a lot more of us will get the omicron than the other variants,â he said in an email.
âTeachers are concerned about the spread of students with this new variant because it is much more contagious and does not follow the same ‘rules’ as previous strains,â said Chelsea Craig of the Sandwich Education Association.
“We will continue to be extra vigilant about the wearing of student masks and our seating plans for the safety of students and teachers,” she said.