Ipswich High School vs. COVID-19

Jake Scruton, Journalist

The school year is four months in now, and the struggle of keeping Covid at bay has continued to vex Principals and Superintendents across the state and country. Three local schools have already had to shut down and go fully remote due to Covid outbreaks in their towns and schools. For many, the question is not if their school will shut down, but when.

However, some schools are doing well and are pleased with the progress they have made so far this year. One of those schools is Ipswich High School, as Principal Jonathan Mitchell is a firm believer in keeping the students safe while also being able to go to school and indulge in a functional learning environment. “Given the challenging circumstances,” says Mitchell, “I am pretty happy about how things have gone thus far.” Principal Mitchell is not too worried about going fully remote as he is confident in what the Ipswich School System has done so far to keep its students safe. But, he is aware that if a situation arises that forces Ipswich to revert to remote learning, he will have no choice but to do so. “More than likely, the school would have to close if we didn’t have enough subs to cover teachers who would need to quarantine due to exposure to a positive case, even if they weren’t really sick themselves,” Mitchell remarked. “Sometimes it feels inevitable that that scenario will happen, but only time will tell.”

Georgetown, Triton, and Lynnfield are the local schools that have had to move from hybrid to fully remote at some point this year. In the case of Georgetown, it was simple; Due to a large party, the school shut down over Covid concerns. Partying is a big fear that many school districts have with their students. Georgetown is not the first and will most likely not be the last school that is closed due to students not following Covid precautions, forcing the school to go fully remote. “It’s possible that a student party could lead to the staff exposures I described that would end up with us having to go fully remote,” Mitchell admitted, but “I hope that we have the cooperation of parents in eliminating large indoor social gatherings.” The closing of Triton and Lynnfield, however, were different stories. These closures were due to exposure over Thanksgiving break, leading to outbreaks within the school system. These outbreaks over Thanksgiving leads to the question schools must face: Is it safe to be in school so soon after the holidays when high exposure is likely? 

Principal Mitchell is not concerned about the holidays and instead wants to focus on the facts and stats saying, “We will simply continue to watch the numbers, adhere to the testing and contact tracing protocol, and react accordingly. It’s been a successful strategy thus far.” Few schools have been as successful as Ipswich has been in containing the outbreaks and creating a working school environment for their students, a testament to the leadership in the Ipswich education system.