Closing of Schools Due to COVID-19

I am writing to inform you that Morris Elementary School and Lenox Memorial Middle-High School will be closed for the next two weeks. The schools will be closed for instruction and all school-related activities and events starting this afternoon. The closure will continue at least through March 29.

I am taking this extraordinary action in recognition of Berkshire County’s continued and disturbing growth in cases of the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, and in an effort to ensure the safety and well-being of Lenox Public Schools students, staff, families, and the community at large. The schools will be open from 8:00 AM to 12 noon on Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17. This will permit school employees or students who have left personal items at school that they will need in the next two weeks to stop by the school to pick them up during these hours.

Effective Tuesday at 12 noon the excellent and dedicated custodial staffs at each school will thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire facilities. When this deep cleaning is completed the schools will then be closed until they reopen. No activities will take place at or in school for the remainder of the two-week period.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education confirmed during a conference call this morning that the Department will not permit schools to count on-line instruction during the period of a school closing toward the mandatory 180 days of instruction that state regulations require. We will therefore not be offering on-line instruction while our schools are closed. Students are strongly encouraged nonetheless to proceed with schoolwork that develops their academic skills during their two-week absence.

Our current plan is to reopen school on Monday, March 30. This plan is subject to revision, however, depending on the public health circumstances at that time. When I have additional information to share with you in this regard I will do so through School Messenger and on the district’s and schools’ websites.

Closing the schools for any reason is something I regret having to do. I know that this action will impose hardships on some of our families. If there were a way in good conscience I could avoid taking this action then I would do just that. But I believe that it is a step that must be taken under the increasingly serious threat to the public health that we are all dealing with.

If you have questions about access to the schools to retrieve personal items then please contact your school’s administration by phone or e-mail. In addition, I will do my best to provide answers to your questions.

This message will be posted on the Lenox Public Schools website and on the Morris and Middle-High School websites, as well.

I am most grateful for your cooperation and support during this trying time.