Photo: BHS-PAC’s spring musical “Shrek The Musical” is one event that will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
The Belmont Public Schools is canceling ‘large’ school-sanctioned events due to the spreading CoronaVirus pandemic, according to Superintendent John Phelan.
Speaking before the School Committee on Tuesday, March 10, hours after Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts after the number of suspected virus patients doubled in one day, Phelan said the district will email a public statement on Wednesday, March 11, detailing the district’s decision and how it will impact the community.
Phelan said the school district’s action was done in coordination with the town’s Health Department and the Town Administrator Patrice Garvin. It also follows Baker’s declaration Tuesday in which he urged large organizations “[to] limit or eliminate large events where possible.”
Examples of “large public gatherings” include the 7th and 8th grade band concert on Thursday, fundraisers such as the Wellington Carnival, public lectures and field trips.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from our families that they were worried about larger events,” said Phelan.
Phelan also said principals will “have at their discretion” the ability to cancel smaller events at the schools. Those could include a PTO meeting where a few dozen parents and school administrators are attending in a classroom or a “Meet the Kindergarten teacher” event, said Phelan.
Phelan would not comment on the possible cancellation or delay of the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s annual spring musical, this year “Shrek The Musical.” The popular yearly event fills the high school auditorium during three or four performances.
“We have to talk about the play,” said Phelan saying he is in discussions with Arto Asadoorian, the district’s director of fine & performing arts on the show’s future. “There is a substantial amount of money that it takes in and a substantial amount that’s put out to support it. We are taking some of these events on a case-by-case basis.”
“But we also want to be safe and be prudent so we’ll decide that in the upcoming days,” said Phelan.
Phelan told the committee the district has not joined other public schools or several nearby colleges and universities in permitting home learning or virtual classrooms to prevent the virus from spreading in Belmont schools.
But Phelan noted that the district will be realistic that distance learning may become an option as the effect of the virus on communities “changes by the day.”
While no Belmont resident or public school student have been diagnosed with the coronavirus as of March 10, “it will come here,” he said.