A public school in Boston is being shuttered for 10 days due to a COVID-19 outbreak among dozens of staff and students, officials said.
Parents of students at the Mary Curley K-8 School in the city’s Jamaica Plain section learned of the shutdown for in-person learning in a letter Tuesday.
The move was made on the recommendation of the Boston Public Health Commission following a recent uptick in coronavirus cases across multiple grades and classrooms in the past week, Principal Katie Grassa said.
“This is an active effort to immediately stop the spread and provide time to add staffing capacity to fully implement the test and stay and contact tracing programs,” Grassa wrote in the letter.
The number of active cases wasn’t disclosed in Grassa’s letter, but the outbreak at the 900-student school has swelled to 46 — including staff members and students in 21 classrooms, some of whom had been vaccinated, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said during a media briefing Tuesday.
“This was of course not an easy decision for us,” Cassellius said Tuesday. “Temporarily closing the school is an active effort to stop the spread within the school community and beyond.”
The school is closed for in-person learning Wednesday and is set to reopen on Monday, Nov. 22. The district was finalizing a plan Tuesday for remote learning during the shutdown, Grassa said.
“BPHC advises those who have been on campus to self-isolate and avoid groups or gatherings,” Grassa’s letter continued.
The closure marks the first time this academic year that a COVID-19 outbreak prompted Boston officials to shut down a school, the Boston Globe reported. The district serves roughly 54,000 students in 125 schools, according to its website.
Cassellius said the number of cases made it difficult for school staffers to keep operating under a so-called “test and stay” regimen in which state officials advised them to keep schools open during the pandemic by allowing students who had close contact with an infected person to keep attending classes if they tested negative.
Curley staffers had been administering about 500 rapid tests daily as of Tuesday, the Globe reported.
The closure comes as vaccines are now available to children as young as 5, but Boston Public Schools recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 cases this fall — 109 — in the week ending on Nov. 3. That’s up from 32 just seven days earlier, according to the Globe.
Grassa, meanwhile, encouraged students, family members and staffers to get vaccinated as one of the “most effective ways” to stop the spread of the virus that has killed more than 757,000 Americans as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.