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First school in Massachusetts closes due to Coronavirus

The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden.
The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden.

MALDEN — The first school in Massachusetts has officially canceled classes due to fears surrounding the new coronavirus.

Mystic Valley Charter School will close its doors this upcoming week, Wednesday, March 11, to Friday, March 13, due to concerns over the rapid transmission of the COVID-19, a letter from Superintendent Alex Dan says. The school was already scheduled to be closed Monday and Tuesday.

Click here to read the email Dan sent out..

“First, I would like to emphasize that, to our knowledge, no MVRCS students have or have been exposed to COVID-19,” Dan said. “Additionally, we are not aware of any students having taken trips to countries identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as restricted.

“We have become increasingly concerned that transmission among school-aged children could be a significant risk factor, not for the young people themselves, but for family members, especially those with pre-existing health conditions or the elderly,” Dan added in the letter.

No school activities will be available next week, the letter states.

“Please let me reiterate that this decision is not responsive to any threat of infection or exposure within our student body,” Dan said. “The school has been in touch with local and state health agencies in a proactive manner, and none of them have encouraged or directed the school to take any action responsive to COVID-19 exposure concerns.”

Parents outside the school on Thursday afternoon expressed both fear and anger over the decision to close despite there being no known cases of transmission or even specific risk among the students. Several parents expressed confusion that apparently school will be open on Friday despite the same risk.

“The big question is if there’s a risk, why is it safe for my kids to be there today and tomorrow,” one parent said. “Either there is a situation and they need to close immediately or there is not a risk and they don’t need to close at all.”

“If it’s so imperative that they close why are they making the kids come in tomorrow,” one parent asked.

Another parent said they are eager to see how many teachers use the break to take vacations, and how many of those teachers end up coming back sick.

The father of one student said his child told him after school today that “parents were picking (students) up left and right today after the email.”

Another parent said they were disappointed that the email from Dan didn’t say anything about the school being cleaned or disinfected.

Another said the email had prompted fears and concerns all on its own, since when a school “sends a 400 word letter to parents filled with carefully worded, lawyer-approved text, it leaves parents with a lot of questions and doubts.”

Staff writer Robert Mills and Senior Editor Tom Shattuck contributed to this report.