Several Upper Cape school districts have announced plans to hold all classes remotely during the week following holiday vacation due to rising COVID-19 cases.
The public school systems in Sandwich, Bourne and Falmouth will all be holding remote learning weeks from Monday, January 4, through Friday, January 8.
Falmouth Public Schools Superintendent Lori S. Duerr sent a statement to families on Wednesday, December 30, announcing the decision. She said the decision was made after consulting with town Health Agent Scott McGann and town physician Dr. Gregory Parkinson.
"We resolved to move remote to ensure the continued health and safety of our staff and students," she said.
All athletics and extracurricular activities are also postponed in Falmouth until the week of January 11.
Dr. Duerr said that COVID-19 cases are on the rise in town and that the positivity rate has reached 3.93 percent. Additionally, she said the district has been receiving reports of gatherings, house parties and families traveling.
The Falmouth High School girl's basketball team is in quarantine, she said.
"While we do not want to interrupt our students' school routines, we have to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safest school community we can," Dr. Duerr said.
She pleaded with families to follow the travel and quarantine guidelines and to stay home if they are not feeling well.
Bourne Public Schools Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou sent a letter to families on New Year's Eve with a similar message, saying that she had made the decision in consultation with health agent Terri Guarino and district pediatrician Dr. Roshann Hooshmand.
She said that while the district's ultimate goal is to continue with in-person learning, having one remote week will help keep staff and students safe and healthy.
"We determined that it is necessary to take proactive measures to temporarily pivot to remote learning for all students for the week of January 4 through 8," she said. "The one week of remote learning during the week of January 4 allows for a quarantine period post-holiday that will ensure that we can continue with in-person learning for the long term."
Sandwich Public Schools made the decision to have a remote week after vacation ahead of time. Superintendent Pamela A. Gould announced the decision to parents ahead of school break on December 14.
During the remote week, all district staff will have the opportunity be be tested for the virus with results expected to be returned before in-person learning resumes on January 11. All athletics and extracurriculars are on hold in Sandwich until that time as well.
Some of the highest needs students in Sandwich will be able to return to in-person learning next week and Dr. Gould said that those families will be contacted by the district.
Mashpee Public Schools have not announced any change to the district's schedule next week.