Active COVID-19 cases reach triple digits for Gloucester Public Schools

EMILY CORRAO, Staff Writer

Students returned from holiday break amidst a surge in COVID-19 this week. With nearly 25 percent of students and staff absent the past few days, GHS is experiencing the difficulties of pandemic high school first hand.  

GHS currently has 23 active cases, bringing the total number of cases at the high school to 71 this school year.  As of this afternoon, Gloucester Public School district has 126 active cases, which brings total cases for the district to 484.  

“Right now, Gloucester has the highest number of active COVID cases it has ever had,” said Superintendent Ben Lummis in a recent email to parents.

People have become concerned with school safety regarding the virus.

“So many people are sick and aren’t being responsible, ” said senior Maggie Wright. “At the school (GHS) they have students in the lecture hall, auditorium and library because there are not enough teachers or substitutes.”   

On Wednesday, there were seven classes of students assigned to the auditorium each block, three classes in the lecture hall, and four classes in the library due to lack of staffing.  The field house was also used during lunches. Wright wondered how contact tracing would be possible, with so many students together in one space, and no seating charts. “It’s concerning,” she said. 

Based on CDC guidelines, Gloucester High School does not require vaccinated students to quarantine, or test, if they are a close contact and do not have symptoms. Unvaccinated students are asked to quarantine, or use the Test and Stay program. 

Principal Cook said the administration team is meeting actively everyday to assess the situation, and working on potential contingency plans if needed. 

Teachers and staff were offered one COVID test and a KN95 mask that they could pick up on Saturday through Monday from the school. Also, announced over break is there will be no spectators allowed at GHS sporting events.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 dashboard shows that in Essex County there have been a total of 143,817 cases since January 1 2020. In just the last 14 days there have been 10,198 cases. 

That is 7 percent of all the cases in the past two years. The percent of positive cases in the last 14 days are up by 9.92 percent.

In comparison, last year Essex County had only 138 cases as of January 4th. That is only 1 percent of the cases we have currently. 

Many students like Wright have been wondering why we haven’t gone back to remote learning?

The Department of Education does not allow remote learning to count for school days, and there are no plans to do so.  

School officials urge students to follow mitigation practices such as wearing a mask, avoiding parties, staying home when sick, and getting vaccinated.