(WGGB/WSHM) -- COVID-19 cases continue to rise in western Massachusetts.

The city of Springfield has now been in the ‘red’ zone for three weeks.

“We want to prepare to get our kids back in school once it is safe,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Sarno told Western Mass News that public schools will stay fully-remote at least through the first marking period.

A decision is expected to be made about the remainder of the school year in November.

“We will only base the decision on the public health, science, and medicine whether we can go back on a hybrid form or go back completely or stay remote,” Sarno added.

This comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in western Massachusetts, including Springfield, which entered its third week in the ‘red’ on the state's coronavirus risk map.

Sarno said cases need to go down in order for officials to consider changing the school plan.

“The numbers would have to go down. My goal again is to get out of the red, get into the yellow, get back to the green and get rid of this forsaken COVID-19,” Sarno explained.

Cases are also on the rise in Chicopee, which shows yellow or moderate risk on the statewide map. This is week five of hybrid learning for Chicopee Public Schools and this past week, two staff members tested positive for the virus.

Those two cases are counted in the latest school data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties, five public school students and five staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week.

It's something Chicopee is keeping an eye on as discussed in a press conference on Thursday.

“Our numbers are trending up and I want you to know…that we are aware, that we are close to the numbers that would trigger us pause in the phase-in plan,” said Chicopee Public Schools Supt. Lynn Clark.

Clark told Western Mass News the decision to move to the next phase will not be taken lightly.

“The decision to move to the next phase will occur only if Chicopee has the yellow, green, or white ratings, and the yellow rating cannot exceed six cases as the 14-day ruling or if a cluster exists within a building,” Clark added.

Both Springfield and Chicopee officials said any decisions about schools moving forward will be made based on guidance from health and education officials.

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