For the first time this school year, Boston Public School officials are shutting down an elementary school due to a COVID outbreak.
The Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain had 46 positive cases across 21 classrooms between Oct. 22 and Nov. 7. The school will be closed for 10 days to get a handle on rapidly rising cases, officials said.
“This is an active effort to immediately stop the spread and provide time to add staffing capacity to fully implement the test and stay and contact tracing programs,” wrote Principal Katie Grassa in a letter to the community.
The principal's letter says BPS is still finalizing how students will learn while the school is closed.
Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said, at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the temporary closure will give them the chance to deploy additional resources and prevent rapid increases in the future.
"Given the rapid increase in cases, test and stay was difficult to implement in an effective way to reduce spread of COVID while still allowing in-person learning for remaining students," Cassellius said.
The "test and stay" program was implemented in some Massachusetts schools as a way to keep asymptomatic students in the classroom after having contact with someone infected with coronavirus. The asymptomatic person takes rapid tests daily for five days rather than quarantine after a close contact.
The most recent publicly available data on COVID cases in the Boston Public Schools community shows a sharp increase in cases in late October and early November. Between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, BPS tallied 109 total positive cases, which is the highest number reported this academic year. The second highest number of cases for a given week was 59 cases.
The outbreak at the Curley School comes after two other BPS schools — Manning Elementary in Jamaica Plain and Orchard Gardens K-8 in Roxbury — saw increases in COVID cases.
Cassellius acknowledged the Curley School and Manning Elementary have some shared afternoon activities, but she did not confirm whether the outbreaks were linked.