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Dear Gardner Public School Community,
Along with the spike in positive COVID-19 cases in our community, we have also seen an increase at GPS. As of last evening, we had six additional positive cases: one from Gardner High School, one from Gardner Middle School, one from Waterford Street School, and three from Elm Street School. Fortunately, after extensive interviews with students and staff, our nurses have determined that none of these cases have had close contact with other students or staff. However, the increase in cases at Elm Street School required that the district take additional steps.
The superintendent met with the GPS Safety Committee, which includes the School Nurse Leader, teacher representatives from each school, a school committee member, Gardner’s Director of Public Health, a union executive, a school nurse, the facilities director, and the Chief Academic Officer. We found that the number of positive cases at most schools has stayed consistently low--except for the fourth grade at Elm Street School. There are three individuals from the fourth grade who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quarantined. Additionally, three symptomatic students were sent home in the last few days, and three additional staff are quarantining due to close contact with a positive case, all from the fourth grade.
Out of an abundance of caution, and considering the fourth grade’s:
● significant increase in COVID-19 positive cases;
● lack of staffing that affects our ability to safely provide in-person instruction;
● increase in symptomatic students who came to school;
● and following the advice of Lauren Saunders, Gardner’s Director of Public Health;
the fourth grade, and only the fourth grade, will participate in a fully remote learning program for the next two weeks. Fourth grade students will return to the hybrid model schedule on December 3, 2020. All other grades will continue their education in a hybrid schedule.
We will continue to keep you updated of any additional COVID-19 positive individuals in our schools.
Please know that the confidentiality of our staff and students’ health information is important, and that we are not able to give information that could identify the individual. We will continue to work closely with the Gardner Board of Health and our District Safety Committee in making decisions regarding in-person vs remote learning. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we continue to navigate through this pandemic, while keeping the health and safety of our school community as our top priority.
Mark J. Pellegrino, Ed. D.