The Barre Unified Union School District is operating by remote instruction after several members of the school community tested positive for coronavirus. The school district plans to be remote through Nov. 18.
This marks the third school district in Washington County to have had at least one school go to remote learning in the past month because of COVID-19. More than 230 new cases have been reported in Washington County over the past 14 days, including 40 on Monday. The 233 cases are the highest number reported in any Vermont county, including Chittenden, over that time period.
Superintendent David Wells wrote that the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution and to give the contact tracers adequate time to complete their work.”
The temporarily remote schools include Barre City Elementary and Middle School, Barre Town Middle and Elementary School, Spaulding High School, Central Vermont Career Center, Spaulding Educational Alternatives, and all Pre-K programs.
Wells wrote that the buildings will be thoroughly cleaned before students return to school. The district asked school members to continue practicing social distancing and to stay home if they are feeling sick.
Wells also wrote to students, families, and staff of Barre schools on Oct. 30 to “be sure to follow the travel restrictions during this holiday season,” although it is unclear if schools will monitor students’ out-of-state travel plans.
The temporary closure comes amidst a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout Barre. According to the Department of Health, overall cases in Barre City jumped from 39 on Nov. 4 to 99 on Nov. 11, the city’s greatest one-week increase.
The recent uptick has also pushed City Hall to re-close until further notice. The B.O.R. skating rink also closed on Nov. 12 for a two-week period, with a possibility of an extended closure if deemed necessary by the city.
While cases in Barre may be linked to the outbreak that likely stemmed from activities at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center, Gov. Phil Scott said in a recent news conference that the transmission has spread too far to link cases to any one source. The Department of Health claims that 71 percent of cases in Vermont spread during social gatherings, such as holiday parties, cookouts, tailgates and neighborhood get-togethers.