COVID disrupts school for hundreds of Springfield students

Hundreds of Springfield students are currently in quarantine after COVID cases have been...
Hundreds of Springfield students are currently in quarantine after COVID cases have been confirmed throughout the district. - File photo(waff)
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 6:02 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s just a month into the school year and it’s clear COVID-19 is continuing to have an impact. In Springfield, hundreds of kids are currently in quarantine after cases have been confirmed throughout the district.

Owen Farrar says his favorite part of school is P.E. That’s when we get to play sharks and minnows.

“If you are in a pool swim by them without getting tagged and if you get tagged you are either a shark or seaweed,” Farrar said.

But there’s concern in his house the educational games could come to an abrupt halt. Owen’s little sister was pulled from her kindergarten class this week after another student in her class tested positive for COVID. The kids’ mom says it’s an all too familiar reminder of the beginning of the pandemic when all schools went remote.

“It caused so much damage socially, emotionally for him. He wound up in therapy because he wasn’t getting out of the house. He wasn’t going to see people,” mom Tashina Champney said.

Twelve COVID cases in the district are spread throughout the four schools: the two elementary schools, the middle school and the high school. In all, district officials say roughly 275 students are quarantining because they are close contacts.

“Last year we were in a hybrid mode, so we would only have a third of our kids in a school building at any given moment. We could spread those kids out,” Springfield superintendent Zach McLaughlin said.

A hybrid model is not an option this year. State officials say in-person learning is the priority to avoid the negative consequences of remote education. But as COVID surges in Vermont, more kids are being sent home. A negative test gets them back in the classroom but McLaughlin says the state needs to do more to facilitate those tests.

“Where we could actually do the testing ourselves or send home kits with kids to do that so we can turn kids back around. We need that and we need it fast. Otherwise, we are going to continue to have a lot of kids’ educations disrupted,” he said.

Kids like Farrar. The second-grader says he likes going to school.

“I get to hang out with other people and I’m not sitting inside all day arguing with my sister,” Farrar said.

His mom wants to keep him healthy but is worried about more than just the virus.

“Obviously people are getting sick, people are dying from it, but people are dying from the flu,” Champney said.

The superintendent acknowledges that it is a frustrating time and is encouraging people to be patient and respectful when interacting with school staff.

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