WORCESTER — Regardless of any delays in statewide COVID-19 test kit distribution for schools and a push by others for delayed re-openings, city students, faculty and parents can expect schools here to begin at regular hours when they return to classes Monday.
The delay of an order of more than 200,000 at-home COVID-19 tests for schools statewide due to supply chain issues did not impact school staff’s access to testing kits of two at-home tests, Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Maureen Binienda said Sunday.
“There is no reason not to open on time,” Binienda said.
The school district received tests from the City Manager’s office and distributed tests Sunday morning, Binienda said.
As the school district was a distribution hub for KN95 masks provided by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Binienda said that each staff member was provided with 30 KN95 masks to last until the February vacation.
2-hour delays elsewhere
Several school districts across the state have announced two-hour delays to starting school Monday to make more time for testing staff following the testing distribution issues.
Some school districts canceled classes on Monday. Cambridge canceled classes Monday and Tuesday, while Burlington, Sharon and Lexington schools are among those that will not have classes Monday.
The Massachusetts Teacher’s Association called for schools to not hold classes Monday statewide, but the state announced it had no intentions of delaying schools.
In Worcester, the Educational Association of Worcester (EAW) had hoped for a two-hour delay so teachers and staff could grab their tests on Monday, according to Spectrum News 1, but the delay was not granted.
The EAW did not return a call for comment Sunday.
COVID-19 policies, protocols in place
Other COVID-19 policies will be in effect when Worcester Public Schools return to session Monday.
Schools will limit the attendance of all athletic events for boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ hockey and cheerleading events for January due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Under the policy, only parents and siblings of players or cheerleaders can attend these athletic events.
Additionally, pending impact bargaining with the union, Worcester Public Schools employees must receive their booster shots within 14 days of becoming eligible beginning Feb. 1, or agree to weekly testing.
As the state has not accepted new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines shortening the isolation period for for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 to five days, Worcester schools will continue to follow the 10-day isolation guidelines.
Testing is also available at the Mercantile Center, however the testing site has been burdened with long lines during the holiday season and the rapid spread of the omicron variant.