Berkshire Hills eyes hybrid reopening model, but teachers wary

Peter Dillon, superintendent of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, has delayed the return of students to in-person learning to Feb. 1, citing high COVID-19 numbers in Great Barrington. 

The leader of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District is pushing back the return to in-person education, citing concerning levels of COVID-19 transmission in Great Barrington.

Superintendent Peter Dillon told district families and employees in a Sunday email that learning will remain on a remote basis until Feb. 1. He had hoped to see students return this Thursday. 

Dillon noted that the state Department of Public Health says that in the 14 days before last Tuesday, Great Barrington saw an average daily incidence rate of 119 per 100,000 residents — enough to put the town in the DPH’s red zone.

On top of that, 6.46 percent of tests for the coronavirus were positive. While that is below the state’s overall positivity rate of 6.85 percent for the same two-week period, it is higher than the county’s 4.49 percent rate in the DPH report. The county rate has climbed since then.

Dillon noted that the county picture on COVID-19 has been improving generally, but not in the district’s town of Great Barrington, which he termed “significantly worse.”

“I know this continues to be a burden on students, families, and staff,” Dillon wrote. “More than anything, we all want our students back in school. We will do that as soon as we can safely.”

The district provides education to students from Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge. 

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com and 413-588-8341.

Investigations editor

Larry Parnass, investigations editor, joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant and CommonWealth Magazine.