Dudley-Charlton faces second COVID-19 scare this week

Schools throughout the area are taking more aggressive steps to combat the coronavirus pandemic, with several cancelling classes on Friday.

The Dudley-Charlton Regional School District (DCRSD), Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School, and Leicester Public Schools have joined other districts, such as Northbridge Public Schools and Webster Public Schools, in closing its doors in an effort to clean schools and try to ward off COVID-19.

For DCRSD, Friday’s school closure has been attributed to a local parent who is awaiting test results for a possible COVID-19 diagnosis. This is the second such instance in that district this week. Earlier in the week, the mother of two students from Charlton tested negative for the illness. Schools remained open at that time, though the woman’s children were dismissed from school and asked to remain home until test results were made available.

On Thursday evening, DCRSD announced another parent was being tested and that school would be closed as a precaution.

“While we do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Dudley or Charlton, this evening we learned that a parent who is symptomatic is being tested for COVID-19. Therefore we are closing all schools tomorrow,” read a notification on the district’s website on Thursday night. “All districts have a conference call with the Commissioner of Education tomorrow morning. We will communicate out guidance or further decisions in the afternoon. We continue to work closely with town health agents and town leaders to arrive at collaborative decisions during this pandemic.”

In Leicester, the decision to cancel classes on Friday came after school officials met with the local Board of Health.

“Tonight, I met with the School Committee, the Board of Health, and the District Leadership Team. Our objective was to formulate a measured District response to the Coronavirus crisis. We considered the fact that we do not have any known cases of Coronavirus in our area, however, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to cancel school on Friday, March 13, 2020, to conduct a deep cleaning of the buildings,” said Leicester Public Schools Superintendent Marilyn Tencza in a notification to parents. “All buildings will remain closed throughout the weekend and all activities at the schools are canceled through Sunday evening.”

Superintendents throughout the Commonwealth are scheduled to take part in a conference call with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Friday morning, and Tencza noted she will also be participating in a meeting with the Board of Health. After those discussions, Tencza and district officials “will finalize our action plan for the upcoming weeks.” She pledged to provide parents with an update on Sunday.

“We will continue to monitor the latest news and information from the CDC, and will continue to confer with the School Committee, the Leadership Team, the Board of Health, and all other agencies that oversee student activities,” Tencza explained. “Please be assured that student and staff safety remain our highest priority.”

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