Hatfield public schools go all-remote as town’s COVID cases rise

Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

HATFIELD — Hatfield public schools will have entirely remote instruction through Thanksgiving weekend due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in town.

At an emergency session Saturday, the School Committee voted unanimously to move from the hybrid model in place since late September. The action came following a recommendation from COVID Coordinator Kerry Flaherty.

In an email, Superintendent Martin McEvoy notified families of Hatfield Elementary School and Smith Academy students about the suspension of in-person learning until Nov. 30. He noted the multiple positive COVID cases and trend of increasing infections.

“Thanks for your understanding as we try to keep everyone in the school community safe. Be well, stay safe, and take care,” McEvoy wrote.

On Thursday, Flaherty informed the School Committee that three families, and four children in the public schools, may have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19. Two of the children tested negative and showed no symptoms, while the other two are in quarantine and are not being tested.

Flaherty said she is confident there has been no virus transmission in schools.

“There is no risk in the district right now,” Flaherty said, adding that her limited ability to do contact tracing had prompted her request that the schools do remote instruction last Thursday and Friday.

McEvoy, too, expressed confidence in the safety of the school buildings.

“Please note that students and staff have done a great job with COVID transmission prevention strategies at school and there is no evidence of virus transmission at school,” McEvoy wrote.

But the number of COVID cases in town is growing and pausing in-person learning on a temporary basis was prudent, he said.

Flaherty said Hatfield has seen 11 positive cases in the past 14 days, and an additional six residents were awaiting results of their tests as of Thursday evening. Flaherty also said an additional 15 individuals are quarantining for two weeks after being exposed to a positive COVID case.

Though remote learning is underway, meals for all students are available at no charge and can be picked up at the Smith Academy car line each day between noon and 12:45 p.m.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.