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Lee school district makes preparations for coronavirus

Lee parent Nicole Kosiorek and Lee Elementary students appear before the Lee School
Committee at its meeting on March 10 to protest the proposed toxic waste facility in Lee. Photo by Ted Remsnyder.

LEE — The Lee Public School District is making contingency plans for all possibilities regarding
how the coronavirus outbreak could affect the remainder of the school year.
New Lee Superintendent Michael Richard informed the school committee during its meeting on Tuesday, March 10 that the district is monitoring the situation regarding the virus and will follow instructions from the state on how to proceed.
Richard told the board that the district does have wiggle room with its schedule if they must
close schools for a period of time due to the virus.
The superintendent said that Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley has informed districts that they will not have to hold classes longer than their scheduled 185th day of school.
Richard explained that the district already has a 180-day schedule with five snow days tacked on, meaning they should be able to stick to their scheduled last day of school on Monday, June 15 even if schools are shuttered.
“If we were ever in a situation where there was no school for a week or two weeks, that would not have a negative impact on the last day of school,” Richard told the board.
The superintendent said it was his desire to not have to cancel any classes in Lee schools this year.
“I’m hopeful that if we can keep our students, staff and community healthy that we won’t have to go that route,” Richard said following the meeting. “But it’s changing every day and that’s the challenge here. Every morning when I wake up I’m reading something different about how many cases are out there.”
During the meeting, Richard told the school committee that the district had decided to cancel the upcoming class trip to Costa Rica that was scheduled to take place between April 17-22.

Lee Middle and High School Principal Gregg Brighenti said that 22 students were slated to go on the educational trip, with a total traveling party of 30 people scheduled to go abroad for the trip.

After Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker urged schools across the state to cancel upcoming international trips due to fear of contracting the coronavirus, Richard and Brighenti met with the students who were slated to take part in the trip on Monday, March 9 and told them that it would be postponed.
Richard said that the district hopes to reschedule the trip for sometime in the next school year and that the underclassmen who were planning on going to Costa Rica in April will still be able to take part next year when the trip is rescheduled.
The superintendent said the district is working with its travel agency to recoup costs from the trip through insurance policies the district was required to purchase when planning the international trip.
Richard added that more tough decisions could be coming regarding school field trips, whether they are taking students out-of-state or even within the county.

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