SWAMPSCOTT — Swampscott High School will continue in a remote learning model until Tuesday, Jan. 19 after school officials learned approximately 50 students had gathered for two New Year’s Eve parties.
High School Principal Dennis Kohut sent a letter home to families on Jan. 8, detailing his decision in the wake of the parties that took place and the lack of social distancing and mask-wearing measures at those parties.
According to the letter, Kohut learned of the parties through an SHS community member, whose information Kohut deemed credible, despite the fact that the SHS member could not identify all of the students in attendance at the two parties.
Such information “has given me pause in thinking about our return to hybrid learning on Monday,” Kohut wrote in his letter. He also said the decision to remain in remote learning comes “out of an abundance of caution.”
This decision comes after Swampscott Public Schools switched to the remote model for all students in Pre-K to grade 12 back on Monday, Dec. 21 in an attempt to combat the rising number of positive cases in town and imminent gatherings due to the holidays.
Had it not been for the parties, the high school was due to be back in-person under its hybrid model on Monday, Jan. 11.
Beginning early next week, Swampscott is also set to change its hybrid model. According to a letter sent home to families on Jan. 5, the changes include live remote instruction for all elementary students on Wednesday mornings, and live in-person or remote instruction for ELA (English language arts), math and science for all middle school students, as well as one hour of live remote instruction each afternoon.
The changes are all designed to increase the time students are actively engaged with a teacher. At the high school level, live in-person or remote instruction for students for all classes except physical education is also scheduled to start next week.
Swampscott is not the only district in the area struggling with students who continue to party — in October, Marblehead decided to send its high school students back into a full remote format for two weeks after a large house party was broken up on a Friday night.
Major COVID-19-prevention protocols were not followed there, either, according to Marblehead School Superintendent Dr. John J. Buckey’s letter to parents.
In Swampscott, Kohut ended his own letter with a plea.
“I urge those students who attended parties to get a COVID test to ensure their safety and the safety of their loved ones, friends, and community members,” he said.