Pelham schools shut until April 10 with distance learning starting Wed.; PMHS senior tests positive for COVID-19

Pelham public schools will be closed March 16 through April 10, with a tentative reopening on April 13, Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ said in an emailed announcement Sunday. The closure includes much of the spring recess, which was to run April 6 to April 13.

The decision comes with the announcement a 12th grade student at Pelham Memorial High School tested positive for COVID-19. The student was in school last week and did not show symptoms until Thursday. Champ said the belief is that the student’s case is connected to a family gathering the previous Sunday that was attended by a Pelham parent who was previously reported as testing positive. That parent’s children—a Kindergartner and a fifth grader at Hutchinson School and a sixth grader at Pelham Middle School—were showing symptoms of the virus as of Saturday’s announcement.

All members of the families are in quarantine at this time. “Students and staff who were in direct contact with the high school student are receiving additional notification from their respective principal,” the superintendent wrote.

In the release, the district reminded residents to “continue to notify your school principal of any confirmed positive tests or requests to quarantine. This information allows us to make notifications to those who may have been in direct contact and at risk of exposure.” The health department is “unable to provide timely notification of positive tests to the school.”

The district will be making preparations for “distance learning opportunities” on Monday and Tuesday, with education expected to begin Wednesday. Plans will be released Tuesday evening, Champ wrote. “These two days will also allow us time to determine what implications this long-term closure may have on our school calendar.”

The email went on to urge social distancing and residents to seek medical help if they are feeling unwell, saying “Stay home if you are feeling sick, and contact your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms. Avoid gathering in groups. Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face and remind your children to do the same. Disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, desks and handrails regularly.”