Gloucester, Rockport schools to close for two weeks
By Michael Cronin Staff Writer
The Gloucester and Rockport public school districts have announced they will close all schools from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27.
The districts made the decision as the state continues to deliberate on the most effective actions toward eliminating the spread of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19.
"They are cancelled for two weeks," said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, an ex-officio member of the School Committee, explaining that the closure is not because of any presumed cases. "I don't even have to shut the schools down ... But because we want to do an extensive cleaning, there is no way that can happen while children are in school."
Superintendent Richard Safier did not return the Times' phone call in time for publication.
"Every day we will check on what is going on," Romeo Theken said.
In a message posted to the Rockport Public Schools website Friday morning, Superintendent Rob Liebow said the decision was made "After thorough and careful consideration of the information presented during this morning’s conference call with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Commissioner of Education regarding the serious nature and rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus in Massachusetts ..."
All events at Rockport's schools have been cancelled as well. School employees have been asked to work from home, if possible.
"As a result of this emergency closure, the last day of school this year will now be Friday, June 19, 2020," the Rockport notice continues. "This new date is based on the updated guidelines issued earlier this week by the Commissioner of Education requiring school to be held up until our previously scheduled 185th student day."
Liebow writes that the district will keep tabs on how the coronavirus is developing to determine if extending the closure period is necessary. All updates will be provided in a timely manner by the district.
"We realize this decision has a significant impact for our community and understand the frustration and uncertainty that is created," Liebow's note continues. "However, we believe these steps are necessary given the current situation."
Manchester Essex Regional schools are closed today. School officials could not be reached this morning.