Good morning Westport Community Schools families:
This afternoon, superintendents across the Commonwealth participated in a conference call with Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley. This call was a follow up to a lengthy phone conference with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in the morning. During those calls, no determination was made by the state on widespread school closure. However, the superintendents in this region have consulted with health experts and their own municipal public health agents in reaching a decision that, while difficult, is in the interests of the safety and well-being of their communities, which is paramount at all times.
A number of superintendents of schools in our region have collaborated to make a timely and unified decision about school closure that we believe is in the best interest of our students, staff, and the larger community. Westport Community Schools will be closed from Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 20, 2020. We will re-evaluate the situation at the end of the week and make a determination regarding school for the following week. In addition to Westport, the following school districts have mutually decided to close schools through at least Friday March 20, 2020. Some school districts have chosen to close through March 27, 2020. Each school district will provide their own individual set of information that pertains to their local district.
- Acushnet Public Schools
- Barnstable Public Schools
- Bourne Public Schools
- Bristol County Agricultural Public Schools
- Dartmouth Public Schools
- Dighton Rehoboth Public Schools
- Falmouth Public Schools
- Fairhaven Public Schools
- Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School
- Mashpee Public Schools
- Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical
- Old Rochester Public Schools
- Sandwich Public Schools
- Seekonk Public Schools
- Somerset Public Schools
- Somerset Berkley Public Schools
- Upper Cape Cod Regional
- Wareham Public Schools
- Westport Public Schools
Our decision has been informed by local boards of health, as well as expert epidemiologists who recognize the time to act is now. We know that we can have a greater and more positive impact on public health and safety if we do this together. We collectively believe that this decision will assist with the ongoing efforts of our communities to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The collective decision to close schools by some Districts in this region has been made after substantial discussions and we acknowledge that this unprecedented closure will be difficult for everyone involved and recognize that families will have specific questions and concerns as we move forward. Families can expect to hear from local district leaders in regard to decisions related to their specific Districts. We appreciate your support and patience as we continue to manage this ever-changing situation.
The Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) is advising districts throughout the state this morning to cancel or reschedule gatherings of 250 people or more, and to limit instances where students, faculty and staff are closer than 6 feet away from each other. While DESE is not explicitly advising districts close at this time, due to the concerns regarding the spread of this virus among crowds, area superintendents feel it is prudent to close their facilities temporarily.
Massachusetts school districts have been informed that no district will have to go past June 30 and that school districts will not have to go beyond their planned 185th day of school, regardless of the coronavirus situation. Based on this information, our last day of school will be June 23, 2020.
Again, we appreciate your patience and flexibility as we continue to learn more about the impact of this pandemic. Our first concern is the health and safety of our students, staff and families.
Gary S. Reese, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools