DERBY — The spread of the novel coronavirus across Orleans County has forced another school to go remote for the week.
North Country Union Junior High School students will learn remotely this week through Friday, joining those of North Country Union High School in Newport City and Derby Elementary School.
John Castle, superintendent of North Country Supervisory Union, said they had to make the decision to go remote “due in part to the rising number of cases in the area.”
The decision on the high school and Derby Elementary was announced Saturday evening. Word about the junior high went out Sunday.
The change to remote learning follows an outbreak at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport City.
As of Sunday, Vermont health authorities identified 160 new coronavirus cases in the last two weeks in Orleans County. Many of those are attributed to the outbreak at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport City.
The prison outbreak began after one staff member and 21 incarcerated individuals tested positive for the virus in testing conducted Feb. 23.
Castle on Saturday called the shift to remote learning a prudent move given the increase in positive cases.
Castle said the school system will continue to work closely with the Vermont Department of Health to monitor the SU’s status.
On Saturday Castle said the school’s emergency COVID-19 response team did not expect any other school to need to go remote. Then on Sunday, they decided to add the junior high to the list.
He called the situation fluid.
The health and well-being of both students and staff is the top priority, Castle said.
“I believe our schools have done an exceptional job ensuring schools are safe and navigating positive cases when they have occurred,” he said.
“Given the high number of cases in recent days, we are concerned about the potential for transmission within schools. Hence, our rationale for pivoting to remote learning for Derby and all remote for the high school and career center instead of the hybrid we’ve been in since the start of the year.”