SOUTH HADLEY, MA (WGGB / WSHM) – Good news for South Hadley as the state is saying yes to distance learning in light of their high school closing due to mold.
The Ministry of Elementary and Secondary Education allows a handful of days before students have to return to classroom learning.
On Tuesday evening, the board met to discuss the cost of opening their school and how they plan to pay the hefty price to make it happen.
A unanimous vote from the South Hadley Select board of directors allows city administrator Michael Sullivan to spend up to $ 500,000 to fix the high school mold problem.
But not before much frustration on the part of the board members as they discussed the school’s ongoing closure.
“For people who may not know, who might be watching this meeting, who don’t have kids in schools receiving updates from the Superintendent, an aggravating problem is that the state, until today, did not allow the school to do any distance learning … For this to count as learning time, these children therefore stayed at home for two more weeks, ”said Andrea Miles from South Hadley Selectboard.
Hundreds of South Hadley students were left in limbo until Tuesday, when Mass’s elementary and secondary education department. eventually granted a temporary exemption allowing distance learning.
The state is only giving five days, a limited time frame for the city to prepare for in-person learning.
“Everyone wants to solve this problem and get the kids back to school. One of the things people worry about is the cost,” said Michael Sullivan, city administrator.
And rightly so, the estimated cost to clean up mold: over three-quarters of a million dollars.
At the meeting, Sullivan suggested and some board members agreed that the city spend $ 500,000 of the $ 5.4 million received from the American Rescue Plan Act or ARPA and try to get the rest. of State.
“People say aren’t there other things we can spend this money on? Yes, there is a long list of things. But it’s the most immediate, it’s the one we need to resolve it right away. I think they need our financial support. and our moral support to resolve this issue, “Sullivan said.
One problem, according to Miles, was only compounded by the state’s initial inaction when it refused any alternatives to in-person learning.
“Again, as with a lot of things over the last year, I think the way the school is run at the state level is shameful because it’s unrelated to COVID. It doesn’t. isn’t the school that tries to say “let’s let our kids sit at home and be comfortable,” Miles said.
Students at South Hadley High School will begin distance learning on Thursday. In the meantime, a mold remediation company has collected samples and test results are pending. Pending these results, no students or staff are allowed to enter the building.