SCHOOLS CLOSE AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

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Gloucester Public Schools will close for a minimum of two weeks until March 30th due to Coronavirus concerns.

In an email to parents, guardians and staff Superintendent Richard Safier said the decision was made “after thorough and careful consideration of the information presented during this morning’s conference call with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Commissioner of Education regarding the serious nature and rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus in Massachusetts, and in conjunction with the Mayor and the Gloucester Health Department.” 

All Massachusetts school sports have also been postponed until March 30th, though according to the MIAA this decision will be revisited at that time.

Additionally, all scheduled GHS events for the two week period have been cancelled. Administration is working to ensure that students are equipped with the resources to make it through the next two weeks, and have begun working with Open Door to provide meals for those who rely on school lunch.

“It think it is absolutely the necessary thing to do,” said Gloucester High School parent Sarah Oaks. “We have to think about the people who are seriously affected by this.”

It is still unclear what expectations will be for remote teaching and learning during this period. GHS will hold a virtual staff meeting Monday to decide this. A document will also be shared by department to further facilitate detail-oriented discussion.

Health and wellness teacher Ms. Goulart is preparing assignments for students over the closing, though she is unsure exactly what remote teaching will look like.

“For my upper level class I am having them write in their journal every other day and meditate,” she said. “I haven’t decided about what to assign my 9th graders. Possibly a practical assignment related to nutrition, like cooking a meal.”

Students are concerned about many aspects of the closure.

“I feel like remote teaching will not be as valuable as the learning experiences I will get at school. I feel like this will hinder our learning abilities for the rest of the year,” said GHS junior Joe Ciaramitaro.

Junior Ryan Bergin agrees.

“I feel that since there are no confirmed cases in the school it is a stretch, but at the same time, I feel like the admin is being overprotective. Also, the teachers are assuring us that it will be the same course load in classes, but I am pretty sure it will be less which will hinder our learning,” he said. 

Senior and class treasurer Gracianna O’Toole worries about the possible cancellation of senior events.

“As a senior class officer I am worried about how this break will affect our finances. I’m also worried about the refunding of venues.”

Other students appreciate the decision to close, since the virus in contagious before symptoms appear. “It is safer to be out of people’s way instead of potentially spreading the virus to more people,” said senior Marisa Neves. “You don’t know what immune diseases people have so it’s the only safe option.

The Gillnetter staff will work remotely to provide the most up to date news and information on this, and other stories.