Dartmouth Public Schools postpones in-person return

Jan 6, 2021

This story was updated following Superintendent Gifford’s Jan. 6 announcement.

Citing the town’s high Covid-19 cases, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford announced Wednesday that Dartmouth’s public schools will remain remote for an additional week. 

“The next several weeks are likely to result in a rise in Covid cases,” Gifford wrote. “This impacts our ability to properly staff the buildings and contact trace effectively.” 

Schools were originally set to return to the hybrid model— with different cohorts attending school in person on alternate days — on Jan. 11, now students will return Jan. 19.

Last month, officials voted to have students start remotely for at least the first week after winter break. The initial decision came after a surge in community coronavirus cases caused school staffing issues due to isolating close contacts, officials said.

Gifford added that another factor in the initial decision was her desire to allow nurses and staff to regroup as people try to isolate themselves following any holiday gatherings.

“To have to come in [Monday] and deal with all of that would have been a bit tricky,” she said.

Prior to winter break, data showed 89 active cases among students and staff at Dartmouth’s public schools, with the illness affecting more than 2.4% of students in the system. Gifford noted on Jan. 4 that there were still some staff out, some of whom because they were “deemed close contacts.”

If remote learning does continue past Jan. 19, Gifford said the schools are prepared to continue with a virtual format similar to the start of the fall semester with district staff teaching virtually from their classrooms, where they will be the only ones present.

“The remote model today is much different from the one we did way back in March,” the  superintendent said. “It’s full schedules for the kids.”