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Morningside students are back after a COVID outbreak. Here's what would happen if cases rise again

Exterior of Morningside school

The Pittsfield Public Schools district sent second graders at Morningside Community School home through Thanksgiving, after a COVID-19 outbreak was detected among students and staff. Almost all those students have returned to school this week.

PITTSFIELD — Almost all the Morningside Community School students who tested positive during a coronavirus outbreak before the Thanksgiving holiday have returned to school this week.

Only four students were reported with active coronavirus cases as of Thursday afternoon, according to the Pittsfield Public Schools District's daily coronavirus case count

The number of active cases is down considerably from Nov. 18, when the district made the decision to send second grade students home after 15 students and two staff members from the grade tested positive for COVID-19 in a matter of days.

Cases within that school community peaked Nov. 22, when 32 students and two staff members were listed as active coronavirus cases. 

To date, 46 students and two staff members from Morningside have recovered from coronavirus since the start of the school year. 

Superintendent Joe Curtis said community members have reached out in the wake of Morningside's partial closure to ask what metric the district might use to close an entire school or the district and send students back to remote learning. 

"There is no opportunity for remote learning this school year," Curtis told the School Committee during its meeting Wednesday night.

He said that remote learning has not been approved to count toward "time on learning" by the state this year. Curtis also added that any decision to make an extended grade or school closure, like with Morningside, only can happen after the district has received permission from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Curtis did note that the district will be purchasing additional software to improve its ability to get a districtwide look at vaccination rates in local schools as part of its coronavirus-mitigation efforts.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6149.

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