Austin Prep is the latest Massachusetts high school forced to go all-remote after a weekend off-campus party raised new fears about the potential spread of the coronavirus.
The private Catholic school in Reading announced Tuesday night that about 40 “selfish” students attended an unsanctioned party forcing the school to now go “full remote teaching and learning for the next 14 days.”
Austin Prep joins Dover-Sherborn, Lincoln-Sudbury and Dedham high schools in pulling the plug on any in-class sessions due to partying.
“Unfortunately, like other secondary schools in Massachusetts which encountered similar activity this past weekend, we too are now impacted by poor decisions that students are making during a public health crisis,” James Hickey, head of school at Austin Prep, said in a statement.
“The individuals who made these irresponsible decisions, regrettably have halted the progress we have been making as a community to return to campus and resume in-person instruction that students and staff have overwhelmingly embraced,” Hickey added.
Hickey said he will investigate the party and reinforce with students that violating the school’s rules goes against Austin Prep’s “core values.”
It also pushes back tryouts for fall sports and forces parents to scramble to make alternative “child care arrangements for younger students,” the school said.
In the other high school parties, some of the students from Lincoln-Sudbury and Dover-Sherborn ran into the woods once police arrived to break up the gathering.
Lincoln-Sudbury has been forced to switch to remote-only learning following the weekend party, Principal Bella Wong, who also serves as superintendent, said in a letter.
Dover-Sherborn is also all-remote after a bash that attracted up to 150 kids from numerous communities, according to Superintendent Andrew Keough.
“We know these types of events are very high risk and similar events in our area have resulted in serious spread of infections and yet we cannot put ourselves together enough to put a stop to it here?” Keough wrote in a letter to the school community.
In Dedham, police tweeted a “gathering” was held over the weekend. School leaders have now delayed the start of in-person classes beyond Sept. 21 planned start date.