By: Matt Murphy
Melrose said this week, barely into the new school year, that it had quarantined at least two classrooms for a COVID-19 outbreak, but Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday a return to remote learning as an option for school districts is not under consideration.
“Schools have a certain number of days baked into their calendar that they are allowed to miss and I think our view at this point is in-person learning is where we should be and where we should stay, and anybody who isn’t vaccinated who’s eligible should get vaccinated and take advantage of these clinics we’ve put up,” Baker said.
Baker responded to questions about the situation in Melrose from Gloucester, where he was celebrating the opening of new lab space to be used to train people for jobs in marine and life sciences. The governor said his administration continues to work with school districts about how to respond to positive cases in schools, and encouraged schools to take advantage of the on-site vaccine clinics that the state has offered to set up for students and staff. More than 100 clinics in schools around the state are up and running through October, he said.
Melrose officials did not say how many students or staff had tested positive for COVID-19, if they were vaccinated, or specify the grade level of the classrooms that were put into quarantine. “As long as there are unvaccinated people in Massachusetts, there will be COVID cases,” Baker said.
The Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 5,484 new cases of COVID-19 over the long Labor Day weekend, and 4,415 cases over the past week in individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The newly-reported breakthrough cases raised the state’s total as of Sept. 4, to 23,858, or 0.53 percent of the 4.52 million fully vaccinated Bay Staters. Breakthrough infections have led to 762 hospitalizations and 162 deaths.
“When you have 5 million people at this point in time in Massachusetts who are basically vaccinated you can’t count cases anymore and assume that means hospitalizations and deaths. The vaccines work,” Baker said.