MONSON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Monson has forced all public schools in the town to move to remote learning, beginning tomorrow, on Nov. 18.

Monson hit an all-time high for the number of cases it seen in two weeks. This new record more than doubles the town's previous highest rating, and now the district is taking a step back.

“This was very disheartening, to say the least, this morning when I gave this news,” Monsoon Superintendent Cheryl Clarke said.

All public-school students will learn remotely until at least Dec. 7, after coronavirus concerns stopped in-person learning.

“Although it’s inconvenient, and we didn’t want to have to move to this model, it’s for everyone’s safety,” Clarke explained.

This move comes as the town is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, their highest coronavirus case data to date.

Clarke told Western Mass News 27 positive cases reported since Nov. 1.

“There were some connections to some in our school community,” Clarke said. “Because it was such a high number, and our nurse later spoke with a local board of health and also concurred with this recommendation that we do this.”

She said the town’s previous case high was set at 12 cases over two weeks back in mid-September.

“We’re such a small town, and we had been so low. I mean, in the beginning, we had weeks with zero,” Clarke said.

But Monson isn't the only community changing their plans.

The Commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Jeffrey Reilly, said it's not necessarily positive COVID-19 cases in schools that are forcing towns to go remote.

“We don't think the transmission is happening in schools, but that doesn't mean that kids or teachers aren't bringing positive cases into schools,” Reilly said. “When you do that, you have close contacts, which means you have to put students or staff out.”

Reilly said more districts might have to make the switch.

“For right now, with the numbers going up, some districts may have to shift to remote if the cases go up, even if there's no spread in the schools,” explained Reilly.

Clarke said there have only been two positive cases in the school system since in-person learning began. She also said they hope to bring students back on Dec. 7, but if COVID-19 case rates continue to rise, they would have to postpone in-person learning until after the new year.

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