A continued uptick in the number of staffers testing positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus has prompted school officials to close two schools, while monitoring locations systemwide. West Haven High School Principal Dana Parades sent a letter home to parents explaining three more staff tests were the cause.
Monday was the last day of in-person learning for high school students, with a projected re-opening on Nov. 20. Schools were closed Tuesday and Wednesday, the latter being Veterans Day.
“Between yesterday and today, I was informed of three additional members of our school community who have tested positive for COVID 19. While there is no known connection among these cases, at this point we have too many staff in quarantine to offer in-person classes,’ the letter wrote.
So-called “Distance Learning,” with teachers providing instruction via the Internet will resume today in the high school
Meanwhile, the same problem is plaguing Carrigan Intermediate School, where Superintendent Neil. C. Cavallaro has determined to keep that building closed through the rest of the week. Plans are to reopen Monday. Distance Learning will be provided today and tomorrow for those students.
According to Director of Public Relations Miguelina Felix, the two schools were seeing the highest increases in positive tests, requiring staffers to quarantine. Support staff, such as paraprofessionals, substitutes and others will be deployed to other schools.
Parades reported in her letter students are expected to log into their distance learning programs during the 10-day hiatus. Also, athletic teams will be allowed to compete in contests already scheduled, but captain’s practices in winter sports will be suspended during the shutdown.
Felix indicated that elementary schools are not having the same testing upticks the high school and Carrigan are experiencing, so they will continue with normal schedules.
She also said upon questioning there is no plan at the present time for a systemwide shutdown.
Cavallaro, meanwhile, is trying to deal with the situation as it unfolds. Part of the problem is exposure to those who have tested positive for the disease, he said.
“Quarantining staff based on being in close contact of an infected person is becoming an issue. We simply can’t cover our classes and offer the level of instruction as a result,” he said. “Carrigan will be out for the remainder of the week, and the high school through the 20th. Obviously, this is a fluid situation that we will continue to monitor closely.”
The closure of the two schools is the first for the city’s system, but follows a series of sporadic closures all over the state. Several schools in the region closed for short periods since schools opened the day after Labor Day, including many in New Haven County.
Schools were closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year in March throughout the state when the virus reached pandemic levels.
With the coming of the fall and lead into winter, the state has seen exponential increases in positive tests after having the best numbers in the nation during the late summer and fall. Gov. Ned Lamont, last week, ordered a retreat to Phase II of his four-step opening plan. The state had been allowed to go into Phase III earlier this fall.