EAST LONGMEADOW – At the Feb. 3 East Longmeadow School Committee meeting, the members were emotionally moved when Pastor John Chase of New Life Church on 317 Westwood Ave. expressed his gratitude on having in-person learning in their schools.
Seven years ago, Chase and his wife adopted twin boys Michael and Gabriel through Department of Children and Family (DCF). While in the foster care system, the boys were victims of abuse and trauma. Now, they are in the fourth grade at Mapleshade Elementary School. When the remote learning took place, it was obvious to Chase that it was wearing on his sons and beginning to affect their development because of the trauma they experienced. When the opportunity to go back to live school opened up, Chase and his wife were big proponents of it.
“I trust you as a School Committee and I trust Mr. Smith in his leadership. I’m very thankful that you made the decision to open up this for us again. The boys started and they were in Cohort A. The change in my sons the first day back in school was visible and obvious,” Chase said. “Thankfully, the system has opened up Cohort D. Both of my sons are eligible for Cohort D and we’ve put them both in it because the way school is now in-person is absolutely the best option for our boys. I know not everybody agrees with that, but I just want to say thank you so much for your decision for my sons to be back in school live and the help that it is providing them. An amazing resource for them to be back in school in such an incredible time.”
Next was an update on the local health data with Public Health Director Aimee Petrosky. She reported in December they had 44 cases in the zero to 19 age bracket, then 146 in the age bracket of 20 to 50, and at 51 plus the town had 161 cases.
“Approximately 25 of those cases were in our facilities, so spread is community based,” Petrosky stated. “We’re still seeing the vast majority of our cases are community-based transmission and not facility-based transmission like it was in the spring.”
In January, East Longmeadow went up in the pediatric numbers. For ages 0 to 19 there were 54 cases, for ages 20 to 50 there were 124 cases and ages 51 plus was at 110 cases.
Petrosky said, “We are seeing that people within our school community are positive, but so far, we have been able to properly identify, quarantine and isolate positive individuals, so there has not been any school-based transmission that we are aware of.”
The meeting then went on with an update on the school learning model. East Longmeadow is in their third week of the hybrid model. Superintendent Gordon Smith mentioned that the town is still across the district averaging 97.9 percent attendance. During the last two weeks they had 97.7 percent at Meadow Brook Elementary School, 98.4 percent at Mapleshade and 98.05 percent at Mountain View Elementary School, Birchland Middle School at 97.25 percent and the high school was at 98.17 percent.
“We’re really happy with the attendance,” Smith said. “We’re working through the technology challenges and looking at how we can increase the option of transportation for more families.”
At the end, the committee made a motion to approve the 2021-2022 meeting calendar as laid out and to accept the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the East Longmeadow Local Education Agency (ELEA) as written retroactive back to Feb. 1.
This content was originally published here.