Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Superintendent: Update on CES, School Will Resume Monday

Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice said today, in an update to this morning’s closure of Coleytown Elementary School, that school will resume Monday but with those in contact with a COVID-19 staff member asked to stay home.

He said it was determined that the students and staff in two CES classrooms spent a significant amount of time in the presence of a positive case. 

“As a result, these individuals will be excluded from school community and have been recommended to quarantine for 14 days from the date of contact, September 10,” Scarice said.

“To be clear, siblings and other family members of these children and staff do not need to quarantine.”

Here is the text of his email:

Dear Westport Families,

As a follow up to this morning’s communication regarding a positive COVID-19 test of a Coleytown Elementary School (CES) staff member, I would like to provide the school community with an update.

Early this morning, the administration was informed by a staff member who self-reported that they had received notification overnight of a positive test.  Given the tight timeline and that students and staff were to arrive within hours, I made the decision to close CES and Stepping Stones Preschool in order to implement our tracing protocols in conjunction with the Westport/Weston Health District and our medical advisor. This is a one-day closure and both schools will reopen Monday. 

The need to determine risk prior to receiving students was the primary reason for this decision. Additionally, the closure has enabled our facilities staff to perform a thorough cleaning of the school. The health and safety of our students and staff will continue to be our highest priority. 

In working closely with the Westport/Weston Health District and our medical advisor, it has been confirmed that the staff and students have implemented our mitigating measures by maintaining distance to the maximum extent possible, and by wearing masks. 

However, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)/Department of Public Health (DPH) guidance (Addendum 9) indicates that decisions for exclusion from school and quarantine will be based on the individual circumstances of each case, including those who have spent a significant amount of time (i.e. more than 15 minutes) in the presence of a positive case, regardless of mask wearing. 

In this case it was determined that the students and staff in two CES classrooms spent a significant amount of time in the presence of a positive case. As a result, these individuals will be excluded from school community and have been recommended to quarantine for 14 days from the date of contact, September 10. To be clear, siblings and other family members of these children and staff do not need to quarantine.

I am quite certain that, for very good reasons, many in the school community prefer specific information about the individuals involved in this matter. However, the school district administration is required to comply with all applicable laws and regulations regarding student and employee confidentiality and privacy.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) precludes sharing the identity of an individual, with the exception of sharing the individual’s identity with a public health agency (e.g., Westport/Weston Health District). In addition, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents the school district from publicly sharing personally identifiable information derived from student education records.

In light of these confidentiality and privacy protections and our related legal obligations, as well as the need to protect the health and safety of the school community, we will continue to adhere to the appropriate means of notifying the school community of possible exposure to COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. Judgment will be used and each case might look a little different from another.

Some unintended consequences resulted in this matter as well. For example, the distance-learning teachers located at CES were not able to access their materials this morning, and as a result, those classes needed to be canceled. 

The distance-learning specials were impacted similarly, yet this was not communicated to parents and I apologize for any inconvenience.  We have reviewed this process so that we can maintain continuity to the maximum extent possible the next time we experience a closure or interruption of education.

I intentionally state, “the next time” since I want to reiterate that we are educating our students in the midst of a global pandemic. I expect that we will continue to confront circumstances like this throughout the duration of the pandemic. We will get better in our response each time. We will learn lessons from each event and we will continue to educate and develop our children to the very best of our ability. 

Finally, we will continue to count on each other as we continue to rise up and endure this challenge.

Sincerely,

Thomas Scarice
Superintendent of Schools

Terrapin Returns for Another Concert Oct. 2

The Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library announced today they are bringing back by popular demand Terrapin, A Grateful Dead Experience, on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.on the Imperial Parking Lot.

The band sold out their first Drive In Tailgate show in 19 minutes. Since then emails and phone calls have not stopped seeking another show, the announcement said.

“What an incredible response to the band and our shows,” said Matthew Mandell, executive director and president of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets for the show are $100 per car (five person max) and go on sale Monday Sept. 14 at 10 a.m..at http://www.westportwestonchamber.com/supper. The rain date is Oct.4.

COVID-19 Case Closes Coleytown Elementary

A staff member at Coleytown Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19, forcing closure of the school, Superintendent Thomas Scarice told parents today.

“The Administration learned early this morning that a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. Given the timing of the notice and our need to follow District protocols with contact tracing, as a precautionary measure, Coleytown Elementary School will be closed today, Friday, September 11, 2020, to students and staff,” he said in an email.

“This closure includes the staff and students of Stepping Stones preschool.”

He added: “(Principal Jenna) Sirowich and the administrative team will be working closely with the central office administrators, the Westport Weston Health District, and our medical advisor to assess the impact of this positive COVID-19 test and begin contact tracing<  We will provide an update to the CES and preschool community later today.

“In the interim, our custodial staff will be conducting a thorough cleaning of the building to ensure it is ready for reopening.

“We regret needing to take this action and for the late notice but feel it is the most prudent decision so that we can implement the necessary tracing measures.  The health and safety of students and staff are our primary concern.”

Friday, Sept. 11, 2020 – 19th Anniversary


Westport Town Offices & Senior Center are closed.
Noon – 4 p.m. – MoCA Westport – “Helmut Lang: 41.1595° N, 73.3882° W”
1:30 p.m. – Westport Senior Center via Zoom – Friends of the WCSA Concert: Jessica Schwartz
2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Westport Library – Open for limited services
7 p.m. – Imperial Parking Lot – WWCC Supper & Soul Drive-In/Tailgate Concert: Terrapin

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020


Westport Town Offices & Senior Center are closed.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – 50 Imperial Ave. – Westport Farmers Market
Noon – 4 p.m. – MoCA Westport – “Helmut Lang: 41.1595° N, 73.3882° W”
2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Westport Library – Open for limited services
5:30 p.m. – Sherwood Island State Park 9/11 Memorial – 19th annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony
7 p.m. – 646-876-9923 ID:  865 0389 2451 – Planning & Zoning Commission
7 p.m. – via Crowdcast – Westport Library: “The Ruden Report Live at the Library”
8 p.m. – Imperial Parking Lot – Remarkable Drive-In with Catch a Lift Fund: “Top Gun”

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar

Westport COVID-19 Cases Up 3, Deaths Unchanged

The state said today its Westport COVID-19 case count was up three at 356 (341 confirmed and 15 probable) while the number of deaths was unchanged at 23.

Connecticut reported a higher-than-usual rate of positive COVID-19 tests today, along with an increase in coronavirus hospitalizations, state numbers show.

The state reported 89 new cases on 5,943 tests, for a rate of about 1.5%, the highest in a given day since late June.5

Officials have warned that the state’s positivity rate is prone to fluctuate day to day, especially on days such as Wednesday with a relatively small number of new tests.

Even with today’s numbers, Connecticut’s positivity rate over the past week stands at 0.9%, down slightly from late August and lower than that of nearly every other state.

Connecticut has 57 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, per state numbers, up seven from Tuesday but down from a week ago.

The state did not report any new coronavirus-linked deaths today freezing its death toll during the pandemic at 4,474.