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Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020


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Norwalk Power Outage Impacts Westport

UPDATE A fire at an Eversource substation in Norwalk knocked out power tonight to more than 6,200 Norwalk customers and also spread over to 149 Westport customers.

The numbers were reported by the Eversource outage map.

Norwalk fire officials said on arrival at the New Canaan substation heavy fire was visible from an elevated switch gear cabinet that controls a 13,80-volt transmission line.

Eversource technicians were on scene immediately to start the process of shutting down the adjacent gear switches so the firefighters could safely operate and extinguish the fire, said Deputy Chief Edward Prescott.

Unions Issue COVID-19 Reopening List Demands

Other demands include the creation of joint COVID labor and management committees in every school district; only allowing “trained health care workers” to administer COVID-related care to students; delaying in-person learning until all staff (including temporary and substitute teachers) have been trained in safety protocols; and requiring food service workers to comply with restaurant COVID-19 protocols.

Union members said they are concerned there are still districts that do not have enough PPE or proper utilities in buildings, which could result in COVID-19 easily spreading. Katy Gale, Connecticut Education Association (CEA) board member and a 5th-grade teacher at Hindley Elementary School in Darien, said there are classrooms in her district with no windows or ventilation.

“If this can be true in a small suburban town like Darien, you can only imagine what my colleagues in small rural towns with less funding or in large urban [communities], like my own city, Stamford, or Waterbury, or New Haven have going on in their aging buildings,” Gale said.

During his daily briefing today, Gov. Ned Lamont addressed this concern and said the state will be checking back with districts to make sure the schools are following protocols.

“I’m not rushing people back. We always lead with public health,” Lamont said. “I’m doing everything I can to make sure these kids get an opportunity to have a real education, and that involves socialization and in-person learning as long as you can do it safely.”

Both the state and federal government have issued guidance for opening school, but both have stopped short of making any of it a requirement by either attaching money or issuing fines if certain protocols are not followed.

Superintendents were also told Friday how much additional funding they will receive in order to safely reopen, but it is only a fraction of what schools requested. Of the $420 million districts told the state they will need to open safely, $130.8 million will soon be distributed by the State Department of Education.

The safety measures requested by the unions today are a continuation of ongoing pushback from teacher unions since the governor gave the go-ahead for districts to reopen schools.

Union members said during the news conference they initially thought state and local officials would recognize the validity of their concerns and make proper accommodations for reopening. Instead, they said, the school year is about to begin and their concerns have still not been addressed.

“Our members must be part of the solution,” said Shelly Davis, vice president for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel at American Federation of Teachers Connecticut. “State and district level education policies and directives are only effective when developed with us, not to us.”

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas contributed to this story.

Other demands include the creation of joint COVID labor and management committees in every school district; only allowing “trained health care workers” to administer COVID-related care to students; delaying in-person learning until all staff (including temporary and substitute teachers) have been trained in safety protocols; and requiring food service workers to comply with restaurant COVID-19 protocols.

Union members said they are concerned there are still districts that do not have enough PPE or proper utilities in buildings, which could result in COVID-19 easily spreading. Katy Gale, Connecticut Education Association (CEA) board member and a 5th-grade teacher at Hindley Elementary School in Darien, said there are classrooms in her district with no windows or ventilation.

“If this can be true in a small suburban town like Darien, you can only imagine what my colleagues in small rural towns with less funding or in large urban [communities], like my own city, Stamford, or Waterbury, or New Haven have going on in their aging buildings,” Gale said.

During his daily briefing today, Gov. Ned Lamont addressed this concern and said the state will be checking back with districts to make sure the schools are following protocols.

“I’m not rushing people back. We always lead with public health,” Lamont said. “I’m doing everything I can to make sure these kids get an opportunity to have a real education, and that involves socialization and in-person learning as long as you can do it safely.”

Both the state and federal government have issued guidance for opening school, but both have stopped short of making any of it a requirement by either attaching money or issuing fines if certain protocols are not followed.

Superintendents were also told Friday how much additional funding they will receive in order to safely reopen, but it is only a fraction of what schools requested. Of the $420 million districts told the state they will need to open safely, $130.8 million will soon be distributed by the State Department of Education.

The safety measures requested by the unions today are a continuation of ongoing pushback from teacher unions since the governor gave the go-ahead for districts to reopen schools.

Union members said during the news conference they initially thought state and local officials would recognize the validity of their concerns and make proper accommodations for reopening. Instead, they said, the school year is about to begin and their concerns have still not been addressed.

“Our members must be part of the solution,” said Shelly Davis, vice president for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel at American Federation of Teachers Connecticut. “State and district level education policies and directives are only effective when developed with us, not to us.”

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas contributed to this story.

Balducci’s CEO on Bankruptcy Filing: ‘Our Stores Will be Fully Operational’

WestportNow.com Image
The CEO of Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market, 1365 Post Road East, told customers today that even with its parent company, KB US Holdings, pursing a sale process and commencing voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings its stores will continue to operate. Judy Spires said in an email: “This process will position our company for long term success,” adding “Our stores will continue to be fully operational, offering the quality product and selections you have come to expect.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WN file photo

Westport COVID-19 Cases Up 7, Deaths Unchanged

The state said today its Westport COVID-19 case count was up seven at 349 (334 confirmed and 15 probable) while the number of deaths was unchanged at 23.

Connecticut did not record a coronavirus-linked death this weekend, Gov. Ned Lamont announced today as the state’s rate of positive tests remained low despite a significant outbreak in Danbury.

The state announced 492 new COVID-19 cases today out of 55,317 cases, for a rate of about 0.9%. The state currently has 57 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, up three from Friday’s total.

With no new deaths over the weekend, Connecticut has now recorded four total deaths over the past seven days, easily the fewest over a week-long period since the start of the pandemic.

Schools Staffer Tests Positive for COVID-19; Superintendent in Self-Quarantine

“As you are aware, the administration has been hard at work developing plans for the safe reopening of schools.

“This work has involved building-based leadership teams of administrators, teachers, and other key personnel who have been meeting for planning purposes both remotely and in person.

“The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 met in person with members of the Coleytown Elementary School leadership team last week.  I was present for part of the meeting as well. 

“All of us who attended the meeting were adhering to applicable health and safety guidelines, such as social distancing and mask-wearing. 

“The administration has notified the employees affected by this matter and will be responding in accordance with guidance from our state and local public health officials.

“Current guidance from the Connecticut State Department of Education and the State Department of Public Health advises that individuals who may have been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 self-quarantine for 14 days from last exposure to the person diagnosed with COVID-19.

“This guidance encourages district leaders to consult their local public health experts and to consider all specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis when deciding how to respond to specific COVID-19 scenarios that may occur with school reopening. 

“Consistent with this guidance, and in consultation with our local public health experts and taking into account the specifics of this matter, the administration has directed those in close contact with the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of contact and has advised them to be tested for COVID-19. 

“The District has plans in place to support District operations while those in quarantine, including myself, work remotely.  The quarantine period will end before students arrive on Sept.  8, 2020.

“Additionally, as a precaution, our facilities team is conducting a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the rooms used by the leadership team at CES last Wednesday.

“This incident serves as an important reminder that despite the low transmission rates in Westport and throughout Connecticut, COVID-19 is still present among us.

“Yet, after only seven weeks in the community, it has become abundantly clear to me that, working together, we can address these matters expeditiously and effectively with the health and safety of our students, staff, and community as a top priority.

“If any community can meet this challenge, I have complete confidence in the faculty and community members of Westport.

“We will update the school community and the families and staff of Coleytown Elementary School as we have additional information to share.”

“As you are aware, the administration has been hard at work developing plans for the safe reopening of schools.

“This work has involved building-based leadership teams of administrators, teachers, and other key personnel who have been meeting for planning purposes both remotely and in person.

“The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 met in person with members of the Coleytown Elementary School leadership team last week.  I was present for part of the meeting as well. 

“All of us who attended the meeting were adhering to applicable health and safety guidelines, such as social distancing and mask-wearing. 

“The administration has notified the employees affected by this matter and will be responding in accordance with guidance from our state and local public health officials.

“Current guidance from the Connecticut State Department of Education and the State Department of Public Health advises that individuals who may have been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 self-quarantine for 14 days from last exposure to the person diagnosed with COVID-19.

“This guidance encourages district leaders to consult their local public health experts and to consider all specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis when deciding how to respond to specific COVID-19 scenarios that may occur with school reopening. 

“Consistent with this guidance, and in consultation with our local public health experts and taking into account the specifics of this matter, the administration has directed those in close contact with the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of contact and has advised them to be tested for COVID-19. 

“The District has plans in place to support District operations while those in quarantine, including myself, work remotely.  The quarantine period will end before students arrive on Sept.  8, 2020.

“Additionally, as a precaution, our facilities team is conducting a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the rooms used by the leadership team at CES last Wednesday.

“This incident serves as an important reminder that despite the low transmission rates in Westport and throughout Connecticut, COVID-19 is still present among us.

“Yet, after only seven weeks in the community, it has become abundantly clear to me that, working together, we can address these matters expeditiously and effectively with the health and safety of our students, staff, and community as a top priority.

“If any community can meet this challenge, I have complete confidence in the faculty and community members of Westport.

“We will update the school community and the families and staff of Coleytown Elementary School as we have additional information to share.”

Applications Open for Non-Major Party Justices of the Peace

“To be eligible, a voter must have been an unaffiliated or a minor party member voter since May 1 of this year,” said Strauss. “Registered Democrats and Republicans must be named by their respective parties and cannot now become unaffiliated to apply as an unaffiliated JP.”

“State Statute provides for a total of 20 unaffiliated JPs,” Strauss continued. “If there are no more than 20 applicants, the Town Clerk is empowered to appoint all of them to the post of Justice of the Peace. Should there be more than 20 applicants, the Town Clerk is required to select 20 unaffiliated or minor party member JPs by lottery no later than Nov. 20.”

State legislation provides for as many JPs from the town’s list of unaffiliated and minor party member voters as are permitted to each of the majority political parties.

The Republican and Democratic parties have chosen their lists of JPs, all of whom will take office Jan. 4, 2021 for a four-­year term, expiring Jan. 6, 2025.

Justices of the Peace have limited authority to, among other things, take oaths, join persons in marriage, and take depositions.

“To be eligible, a voter must have been an unaffiliated or a minor party member voter since May 1 of this year,” said Strauss. “Registered Democrats and Republicans must be named by their respective parties and cannot now become unaffiliated to apply as an unaffiliated JP.”

“State Statute provides for a total of 20 unaffiliated JPs,” Strauss continued. “If there are no more than 20 applicants, the Town Clerk is empowered to appoint all of them to the post of Justice of the Peace. Should there be more than 20 applicants, the Town Clerk is required to select 20 unaffiliated or minor party member JPs by lottery no later than Nov. 20.”

State legislation provides for as many JPs from the town’s list of unaffiliated and minor party member voters as are permitted to each of the majority political parties.

The Republican and Democratic parties have chosen their lists of JPs, all of whom will take office Jan. 4, 2021 for a four-­year term, expiring Jan. 6, 2025.

Justices of the Peace have limited authority to, among other things, take oaths, join persons in marriage, and take depositions.