COVID-19 Cases in our Schools

COVID-19 Cases in our Schools
Posted on 11/05/2020
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SPS continues to learn from experts, interpret guidance, and plan for changing circumstances. We cannot predict the future, but can instead rely on the advice of our local health experts and guidance from local leaders.

Our overall considerations for moving forward with school plans are:

  • Our close partnership with the Salem Board of Health: Relying on their advice when notified of a positive case
  • Focusing on the specific spread in schools: To date, we have not seen spread in the schools – this is consistent with state, national, and international results
  • Paying attention to where positive cases are occurring: Salem’s positivity rate is low; case increases are mainly coming from clusters within families and indoor, private gatherings
  • Staying safe: Maintaining and enforcing the health and safety protocols we have in place: Still dependent on implementing all risk mitigation measures

As a reminder

  • You should expect that there will be COVID-19 cases in our community. This is a fact of the times we are living in right now.
  • When there are cases, you can expect that we will uphold the privacy, confidentiality, and dignity of both staff and students.
  • You should expect that if you are directly impacted you will get a phone call.
  • When we have been notified about a case, we notify those affected first. The staff and students not affected in that school/building will be notified for informational purposes.
  • We believe that following the health and safety protocols we have in place mitigates risk and allows us to safely provide in-person learning.
  • Even while we are bringing students back to school, there MAY be a time where a classroom is asked to quarantine and switch to remote learning, this is to be expected while we live with this pandemic among us.
  • We believe that the break for students this past week is helpful both for our educators to plan for excellent, engaging lessons for our students and for our community after the busy October time. If any students are exposed to anyone who tests positive, please notify your school nurse even though we are on break!
  • We encourage everyone to go get tested and ensure that any positive results are communicated as quickly as possible. Click here to find the testing hours for the two free COVID-19 testing sites. The city is encouraging all residents to get tested twice a month!


The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) & the Department of Public Health have released updated guidance on understanding “red” for schools. It states: "districts and schools currently open for in-person instruction are encouraged to remain open even if their local community is designated as red, so long as there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in the schools." In addition, the state reporting will now also indicate if a city or town's designation is based on a spread in a particular institution such as a long-term care facility, higher education institution, or correctional facility.

What this means:

Cities and towns should examine where the spread is happening, including clusters in a long-term care facility, institution of higher education, and/or correction facility

Schools should focus on the spread in schools, not just community spread when making decisions about changing course for in-person or remote learning.

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