WINDHAM — Windham High students are expected to return to classes Tuesday after the Department of Health and Human Services' investigation into a coronavirus outbreak among students at the school concludes, Superintendent Richard Langlois said at Tuesday night's School Board meeting.
Board members talked about the district's response to the school's COVID-19 outbreak, in which 18 students contracted the virus at an outside social gathering prior to school starting, according to Langlois.
All sports are set to resume at the high school on Tuesday, according to current plans. Games will begin quickly for some sports, however, the football team will not be able to compete against other schools until early October because of a mandated 14-day practice period, Athletic Director Mike McCaffrey explained to the board.
Those plans are contingent on the fact that DHHS can finish its investigation and ensure that students associated with the outbreak are not bringing the virus into the school, Langlois said.
The district is alerted when students finish the state-mandated quarantine, he said.
Board members acknowledged they have gotten questions from parents asking when the district will have a full return to in-person learning. However, the district can only accommodate 55% of students with 3-feet of distance between them, so returning to full in-person education would mean forgoing that distance.
"I don't see that as being a viable option in the near future," board member Cynthia Finn said.
Board member Sam Falsetti said it would be "wildly irresponsible" to return to 100% in-person instruction, especially at the high school where students were part of an outbreak.
Langlois and other officials were thankful that the school switched to remote learning quickly to prevent the spread of the virus, he said.
Board members Tuesday night stressed that it's the entire community's responsibility to help ensure COVID-19 doesn't spread in schools.
"Think about what's just happened and what we can do to prevent it for everyone together," board member Rob Breton said.
The school board and selectmen wrote a joint letter to the community released Wednesday providing details about how to stop the spread of COVID-19. Precautions they suggested taking include wearing masks, social distancing and limiting gatherings.
Finn suggested that parents help their students find ways to socialize while taking COVID-19 precautions. She gave examples like encouraging smaller groups and using outdoor spaces.