PA closes building following COVID-19 concerns

PA closes building following COVID-19 concerns

On Nov. 17, PA headmaster Dr. Morris sent a one-call-now message to students, staff and parents announcing the closure of the building through Thanksgiving break due to a recent surge of positive COVID-19 tests in the school community.

PA administration confirmed a staff member and a number of students have recently tested positive for the virus.

“The decision was made based on the number of pending tests and the amount of people who were quarantining,” said Dr. Morris. “We just don’t have enough people to staff the building.”

On Tuesday night, the Pembroke School Board also voted on a proposal to move to a full-remote model from the end of Thanksgiving break through Martin Luther King Day.

A member of the five-person school board was absent from the meeting, and the vote failed 2-2 resulting in the school continuing its hybrid model after the Thanksgiving break.

School board member April Villani said she was in favor of continuing the hybrid model for the remainder of the first semester then moving to a full return for Semester II.

“Our residents want the education that they have paid for,” said Villani. “They do not feel that the education provided by the Pembroke School District this year is an adequate education.”

Gene Gauss, another member of the Pembroke School Board, opposed the motion to continue the hybrid model.

“We are not educators,” said Gauss. “We are not medical professionals. Our duty is the education, safety and well-being of students and staff at all Pembroke schools.”

Without the entire school board present, both proposals failed to pass, and an emergency school board meeting has been called for Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Moving forward through the holiday season, many concerns arise about the safety of the staff and the student body. Still, the issue remains contentious between those who would like to see a full return to the classrooms and those erring on the side of caution with a pandemic that has claimed 256,000 American lives.

“Part of me agrees with the possibility of going remote, but part of me doesn’t,” said senior Adrianna Goodson. “I like being in-person, but at the same time I feel that if people travel then it would be safer.”

With the holiday season approaching, many in the Pembroke community will be traveling out of state and gathering indoors.

A perfect storm of the pandemic on top of cold and flu season may also result in a drop of in-school attendance.

“The idea was if we could adopt a plan that would allow us to have more time to prepare and to do this with some intention and forethought, as opposed to being reactive,” said Dr. Morris. “But, unfortunately, if we continue in the hybrid model then we’re going to end up being put in a position where we’re going to have to be more reactive.”

PA is currently continuing with the hybrid model, pending the results of Tuesday’s school board meeting.

This historic situation presents a quagmire for all vested parties.

“The only factor is the safety of everyone in the building, making sure students are safe,” said math teacher Ms. Batchelder. “Ultimately, it’s in the best interest of the administration to heavily take into consideration the safety of the PA community.”