HAVERHILL — After six staff members at Consentino Middle School tested positive for COVID-19, officials have temporarily closed the school, forcing all Consentino students to learn remotely online from home.
School officials said Consentino is expected to reopen to students starting Friday, Nov. 13.
Superintendent Margaret Marotta said three Consentino staff members tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and she learned Monday that two other staff members tested positive. Marotta said those five cases are in addition to five other staff members out of school and being quarantined because they had been exposed to infected people.
Marotta told parents Monday night that Consentino, in partnership with the Pentucket Medical doctors complex, hosted a free drive-through testing site for school staff members Monday.
"After testing 50 staff members, we found that one additional staff member has tested positive," she said. "This new case brings the total count of positive cases within our staff to six. At this point, there is no indication that the virus has been spread from student to staff or staff to student."
Marotta said she discussed the situation with Katie Vozeolas, director of school health and nursing services; Dr. John Maddox, the school district physician; members of the district’s leadership team and the Joint Stakeholder Coronavirus Response Team. Marotta said she then contacted state education officials and made the decision to close Consentino to students temporarily.
Most Consentino students have been participating in hybrid learning — a weekly mix of days spent in classrooms and learning remotely from home. Others are doing all learning remotely. Students are separated into "cohorts'' — groups that allow the school to limit the number of children in the building at the same time.
Marotta said school officials plan to reopen Consentino to hybrid learning students on Friday, Nov. 13, with children in cohorts B and C returning. Students in Cohort A will return to the school on Monday, Nov. 16, she said.
"All other schools remain open in the hybrid learning model as scheduled," Marotta said.
"Reverting to remote learning (for Consentino students) is a difficult decision as we know that students learn best when we have them in front of us," she said. "That being said, these steps are being taken to stop the spread occurring at the Consentino School within our staff and give time to reorganize prior to resuming in-person learning."
Marotta said that although there have been isolated COVID-19 cases in other schools, the decision to temporarily close Consentino was based on conversations with state education and public health officials.
Consentino was closed Monday and Tuesday for teacher professional development and was also closed for voting on Tuesday.
"The school has been thoroughly and deeply cleaned," Marotta said on Monday.
Anyone with questions can contact the superintendent's office at 978-374-3405.
"As always, I thank you for your continued support and encouragement," Marotta said to families and other members of the school community. "We will continue to monitor the situation at all other schools and keep you informed as the situation changes."