SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Less than three weeks after Pope Francis Preparatory School began in-person schooling, the high school announced they will switch to remote learning after three students tested positive for COVID-19.

Pope Francis will switch to remote learning for at least two weeks. School officials said COVID-positive students participated in club sports teams together.

The Catholic high school announced Monday evening that they will be shifting to remote learning for at least two weeks after three students tested positive for COVID-19.

School officials announced last week that one student had tested positive for the coronavirus, but in contact tracing efforts, additional students were identified as close contacts and tested for the virus, resulting in two more positive results.

In a letter obtained by Western Mass News, the Head of Schools Dr. Paul Harrington said the students participated in non-school sanctioned club sports teams.

He said in part, “This new data suggests this group of individuals may be considered a cluster, associated with the club sport that likely extends beyond our school community.”

He went on to say, “There remains no indication or evidence that the student’s contraction of COVID-19 occurred at school or at a school-sponsored event.”

The school year began on Aug. 27 with full in-person learning, despite the decision for Springfield Public Schools to start their school year with a remote learning plan.

But now Pope Francis officials are urging students and families to stay vigilant with coronavirus protocols.

Harrington said in part, “I am grateful for the time we have had with in-person learning and I am very disappointed that we find ourselves shifting gears."

He goes on to say, “I strongly urge students and families to limit their out-of-school contact with others during this time.”

The tentative re-entry date is set for Sept. 29, but Harrington said a hybrid plan to return to the building may be in place for a period of time.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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