COVID closes schools in Springfield, Vt.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/28/2021 7:45:28 PM
Modified: 9/28/2021 7:45:30 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Springfield schools reopened on Tuesday after being closed the day before amid numerous cases of COVID-19 in the district.

The day off on Monday, a “September snow day,” was necessary because a quarter of the district’s students were in quarantine, test results were pending and school staff were struggling to keep up with contact tracing and other duties, Superintendent Zach McLaughlin said in a series of updates to families over what became a long weekend.

“Our existing cases, new ones today, and these  probable new cases from testing, are overwhelming our ability to adequately contact trace, communicate with families, and work to provide for shifting educational needs,” McLaughlin said in a Saturday message.

Fifteen people in Springfield schools tested positive during the week that ended Sunday, according to data from the Vermont Department of Health. That total included six cases at Riverside Middle School, five at Union Street School and four at Elm Hill School.

Though all Springfield schools reopened on Tuesday, many students remained at home in quarantine, McLaughlin said. Those in quarantine included most of the students in four classrooms at Union Street and five classrooms at Elm Hill that have had positive cases. 

Under state rules, any day less than 50% of students are physically present in school does not count as a day of school, McLaughlin said.

He urged families to let school officials know when students have been exposed to COVID-19 outside of a school setting, when they receive a test result and when students 12 or older are vaccinated against COVID-19.

In the seventh grade, about 30% of Springfield students have provided proof of vaccination to the district; in the 8th grade, 27% of students have, and in high school 20% have, McLaughlin said. 

“Our assumption is that these numbers are probably lower than the reality due to a lack of reporting, but it is hard for us to act based on numbers we don’t have,” he said. “Having this information is important for our planning and can help accelerate the speed of our contact tracing process.” 

Elsewhere in the Upper Valley, Newport schools had 18 active cases as of Tuesday, according to Superintendent Brendan Minnihan. That includes eight active cases in preK-fifth grade; seven in the middle school and three in the high school and technical center. After starting the school year with masks optional, the Newport School Board voted last week, when case counts in the schools rose above 30, to require masks through at least Oct. 14.

The tally of cases in Mascoma Valley schools continues to tick upward to a total of 26 cases as of Tuesday, said Superintendent Amanda Isabelle. Isabelle informed families of nine reported new cases on Monday, including seven people at Indian River School and two at Mascoma Valley Regional High School. Stevens High School in Claremont also reported one new case on Monday and two on Friday.

During the week ending Sept. 26, Weathersfield School had four cases and Sharon Elementary School had two, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

The Bethel and South Royalton campuses of the White River Valley Elementary School each reported one case; as did Blue Mountain Union School in Wells River; Bradford, Vt., Elementary School; and Newton School in Strafford.  

Cases trend downward at Twin State colleges

HANOVER — Dartmouth College’s COVID-19 case count is down by more than half from 12 early last week.

Dartmouth, where 96% of the on-campus community is vaccinated against COVID-19, was down to just five active cases of the disease on Monday. Those cases included three employees and two students.

The University of Vermont also has fewer cases this week than last, dropping from 45 in the week ending Sept. 19 to 26 in the week ending Sept. 26.

The University of New Hampshire was down to just 49 new cases last week from 104 the week prior.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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