Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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Education

Scarice: Update & the Road Ahead

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Good afternoon,

I would like to share some updates as we approach the Thanksgiving weekend.

The following update will include information on the immediate future, quarantining practices, supports for quarantined students and distance learners, transportation, travel guidance, COVID-19 reporting, and some of my personal thoughts on what we might expect over the horizon.

The Immediate Future
As projected in October, community infection rates increased sharply over the past month. Meanwhile, our schools have shown a remarkable resilience in halting any spread of the virus in our buildings. I am confident that vigilance in maintaining our mitigating measures (i.e.masks, distancing, hand hygiene, etc.), as well as keeping the density of our schools at 50% capacity, have ensured this measure of success.

We have identified nearly 80 positive student and staff COVID-19 cases in our schools since September. As a result, nearly 1,500 students and staff have been asked to quarantine. Yet, there has been little to no spread of COVID-19 once positive cases have been identified in our schools. The lack of positive COVID-19 tests of those in quarantine is affirmation of our ability to halt the spread of the virus once it enters our schools.

Scarice: New Cases at Saugatuck Elementary, Bedford Middle Schools

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

In our efforts to remain transparent with reports of positive Covid-19 cases associated with our schools, we will continue to provide these updates as information is confirmed. As of the time I am writing to you this evening we have 2 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the following schools:

  • Saugatuck Elementary School – 1
  • Bedford Middle School – 1

Those impacted have been notified by school and District officials. As a reminder, families are asked to report positive of COVID-19 cases of students using our reporting voicemail or email regardless of whether the students are in remote or hybrid models of instruction. Please follow this link for more information on reporting.

Respectfully,
Thomas Scarice
Superintendent of Schools

Scarice: 4 More Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed at Greens Farms, Staples

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

In our efforts to remain transparent with reports of positive Covid-19 cases associated with our schools, we will continue to provide these updates as information is confirmed. As of the time I am writing to you this evening we have 4 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the following schools:

  • Greens Farms Elementary School – 1 (Presumptive from 11/20 confirmed Positive on 11/23)
  • Staples High School – 3 (Two confirmed 11/22, One confirmed 11/23)

Those impacted have been notified by school and District officials. As a reminder, families are asked to report positive of COVID-19 cases of students using our reporting voicemail or email regardless of whether the students are in remote or hybrid models of instruction. Please follow this link for more information on reporting.

Respectfully,
Thomas Scarice
Superintendent of Schools

Scarice: 4 More COVID-19 Cases in 3 Schools

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

In our efforts to remain transparent with reports of positive Covid-19 cases associated with our schools, we will continue to provide these updates as information is confirmed. As of the time I am writing to you this evening we have 4 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the following schools:

  • Greens Farms Elementary School – 1
  • Coleytown Middle School – 1
  • Staples High School – 2

Those impacted have been notified by school and District officials. As a reminder, families are asked to report positive of COVID-19 cases of students using our reporting voicemail or email regardless of whether the students are in remote or hybrid models of instruction. Please follow this link for more information on reporting.

Respectfully,
Thomas Scarice
Superintendent of Schools

Scarice: 13 Newly Confirmed Cases of COVID-19

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

In our efforts to remain transparent with reports of positive Covid-19 cases associated with our schools, we will continue to provide these updates as information is confirmed. As of the time I am writing to you this evening we have 13 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 from Monday, November 16th and Tuesday November 17th from the following schools:

  • Coleytown Elementary School – 2
  • Saugatuck Elementary School – 1
  • Bedford Middle School – 1
  • Staples High School – 9

Those impacted have been notified by school and District officials. As a reminder, families are asked to report positive of COVID-19 cases of students using our reporting voicemail or email regardless of whether the students are in remote or hybrid models of instruction. Please follow this link for more information on reporting.

Respectfully,
Thomas Scarice
Superintendent of Schools

Scarice: Bedford/Coleytown Remains in Full Remote Through Thanksgiving

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

Bedford/Coleytown Middle School will remain in a full remote learning model through the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. Despite our efforts to return to the hybrid model at the middle school, additional positive cases of COVID-19, and the associated quarantines involving staff this weekend, have impacted our ability to provide adequate supervision at the school. Bedford/Coleytown Middle School will remain in a full remote teaching model through November 25th. The majority of our staff in quarantine will be coming out of that status over the holiday weekend, so we anticipate returning to hybrid operation on November 30th.

In my correspondence with the community on Friday about plans for both Staples High School and Bedford/Coleytown Middle School, I shared our plans to reallocate staff from the high school to the middle school for help with coverage needs. Unfortunately, over the weekend, we became aware of 17 additional positive cases of COVID-19 in the District which greatly increased the number of staff forced to quarantine. This is consistent with the trend across the region as all school districts are facing similar challenges. 

To put things in greater perspective, Bedford/’Coleytown Middle School now has 3 full teams of teachers along with 9 encore teachers in quarantine. As a result, nearly 350 students had to move to distance learning.

Ms. Szabo, Principal of Coleytown Middle School, and Dr. Rosen, Principal of Bedford Middle School, will send additional information to their students, families, and staff about plans for the days ahead.

Sincerely,
Thomas Scarice
Superintendent

Scarice: Staples Full Remote through Nov. 25, Bedford/Coleytown Returns to Hybrid Nov. 16

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

As you know we had to move Staples High School and Bedford/Coleytown Middle School to remote learning on November 12th and 13th. The main cause for this temporary switch to remote learning was our inability to properly staff these schools given the number placed in quarantine from exposures to positive COVID-19 cases. Unfortunately the number of staff put into quarantine at Staples High School has continued to rise significantly over the past two days impacting our decision about the status of both schools for next week.

Starting Monday, November 16th, Staples High School will remain in a full remote teaching model through November 25th. The majority of our staff in quarantine will be coming out of that status over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, so we anticipate Staples returning to hybrid operation on November 30th.

Starting Monday, November 16th, Bedford/Coleytown Middle School will return to its hybrid model for instruction. The District is redeploying 9 staff members from Staples High School to the middle school who will assist with coverage needs.

Superintendent Scarice: More COVID-19 Cases Reported in Schools

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

As of the time I am writing to you this evening we have 6 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the following schools:

  • Greens Farms Elementary School - 2
  • Staples High School - 4

Today’s reports of positive COVID-19 cases have led to additional quarantines of staff and students at Staples High School. Those impacted have been notified by school and District officials.

As a reminder, families can report positive of COVID-19 cases of students using our report phone line voicemail or email. Please follow this link for more information.

Marpe: Large Gatherings, Parties, & Sports Activities Spark Uptick in COVID-19 Cases

First Selectman Jim Marpe issued the following statement today:

Last night, Westport Public Schools (WPS) Superintendent Tom Scarice announced that Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools and Staples High School will be operating on a full remote teaching model for all students and staff today and tomorrow. The potential reopening of these schools will be considered for Monday, November 16. This decision is based on the volume of new COVID cases that limit the schools’ ability to open for in-school learning.

Mr. Scarice assures Town officials that while COVID cases have been discovered in the school population, administrators’ swift response to new cases has resulted in little to no widespread COVID contamination. However, new cases require immediate attention, which include quarantining and contact tracing. While the lack of spread demonstrates that the processes in place are working, the schools are continually being challenged by new cases apparently brought on by outside activities.

Mr. Scarice noted that investigations and contact tracing reveal that the new cases are the result of a number of recent large gatherings, parties, and sports activities that involve students or their parents. We continue to see disturbing proof of these activities. Unfortunately, they include images of young people in close contact with one another and without face coverings. I have committed to the Superintendent that Town officials and I will work closely with the schools to promote guidance and regulations that will curb these activities. To that end, I have requested Westport Parks and Recreation Director Jen Fava to research reinstating earlier COVID-related policies at Westport parks, fields, and recreation facilities.