PEABODY, MASS. (WHDH) - School officials in Peabody are doing their homework before calling everyone back to class.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, schools across the state are struggling with staffing shortages. But where everyone else seems to be having issues, Peabody Public Schools have found success.
Superintendent Dr. Josh Vadala said 95 percent of teachers and staff reported for work on the first day back from break.
“We were really pleased with our staff attendance this week. We did take a number of steps prior to going out on the break and returning that may have contributed to that,” he said.
After Thanksgiving, Vadala said the district worked with the health department to offer vaccine clinics in the town’s elementary schools. Before Christmas, they handed out more than 6,000 test kits to students. Then, on New Year’s Day, they ran a free testing clinic at the middle school.
“We do feel like we did take some preventative measures and some proactive steps to work with our staff,” said Vadala.
Although the staff is reporting for work at nearly full force, the superintendent said 20 percent of students in the district were out on Tuesday — double the absentee rate reported at the same time last year.
Even with some people out, 5th grader Bella Haskell said her school feels safe and she’s exactly where she wants to be.
“It’s been really, pretty much, easy because all we have to do is wear our masks,” she said. “I like being in school better. It’s just easier for me to learn.”
Her mom Brenda, and many other local parents, said they too are pleased with how the district has navigated the pandemic.
“I really feel like the school committee and superintendent have done a great job making sure the kids follow the rules, and the teachers too,” said Haskell. “They’re the ones in the faces of the kids all day long making sure they follow their rules.”
Vadala said at this point, there are no plans to keep kids out of the classroom.
“We’re hopeful we can hang on and last these couple weeks, and maintain it, but we will always work with our public health department and continue to look at the numbers to make sure we’re doing so safely,” he said.
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