Thursday, July 07, 2022

Sponsors

Hybrid School Reopening Scenario Most Likely

“I am struggling to see anything but a hybrid model at the secondary level,” Scarice said, though he stressed he still supported getting students back full time if it can be done safely. The logistics of safe social distancing among secondary students appear beyond the capability of the district, given space considerations.

“Secondary is about as prohibitive as it gets,” Scarice said.

He said that this week he would be touring the elementary schools and taking a closer look at plans there.

Likewise plans for Staples are being revised and will be presented to the BOE next week.

He said he and his staff intend to have final plans out by Aug. 15, which they will present. At this point he said about 15% of parents intend to keep their children home regardless of what scenario is in place, in essence requiring that the district implement a hybrid model anyway.

Once again Scarice gave warning to the BOE that, whichever way the final decision goes, the issue is going to remain a heated one throughout the community, indicating the board needed to put forward a united front.

“This is going to be a very divisive issue and I think it’s critically important at the leadership level that we do our best,” he said, to “manage the culture.”

He said he’d received well over 100 emails on the issue, “relatively split,” but leaning toward caution in reopening.

He said the decision would ultimately stem from the health officials in relation to the virus numbers.

Scarice recapped several new developments that have come down from the state — in particular its decision to yield the choice of a reopening plan — whether full, partial, or a continuation of distance learning — largely to each district.

“We are strongly encouraged to continue with the goal of full on-site schooling,” he said.

The state has finally released the metrics to be used in determining reopening plans, broken down into low-, moderate- and high-risk factors. An average of less than 10 new COVID-19 cases in a week is considered low, 10 to 25 in a week is considered moderate, and more than that is considered high.

Scarice said other factors — what he called second-degree indicators — will also be taken into consideration, including hospitalization and testing rates.

“The Department of Public Health will update these on a weekly basis, we’ve been told,” he said, though they’ll be releasing state numbers by county, not municipality. Scarice said this was good, however, as the virus did not respect town borders.

Several comments came from the public expressing concerns and outlining pedantic plans for meeting the crisis.

One parents suggested the district invest close to $6 million to install a series of HEPA air filter systems, while another stressed a strong desire for a virus-alert network and database that the public can have access to by classroom and school.

Meanwhile the board unanimously approved emergency purchasing power and the waiver of the competitive bidding process for both Scarice and Elio Longo, chief financial officer, for virus-related purchases.

“There are times when you need to act quickly,” Scarice said, with up to $250,000 authorized through Sept. 30.

“I am struggling to see anything but a hybrid model at the secondary level,” Scarice said, though he stressed he still supported getting students back full time if it can be done safely. The logistics of safe social distancing among secondary students appear beyond the capability of the district, given space considerations.

“Secondary is about as prohibitive as it gets,” Scarice said.

He said that this week he would be touring the elementary schools and taking a closer look at plans there.

Likewise plans for Staples are being revised and will be presented to the BOE next week.

He said he and his staff intend to have final plans out by Aug. 15, which they will present. At this point he said about 15% of parents intend to keep their children home regardless of what scenario is in place, in essence requiring that the district implement a hybrid model anyway.

Once again Scarice gave warning to the BOE that, whichever way the final decision goes, the issue is going to remain a heated one throughout the community, indicating the board needed to put forward a united front.

“This is going to be a very divisive issue and I think it’s critically important at the leadership level that we do our best,” he said, to “manage the culture.”

He said he’d received well over 100 emails on the issue, “relatively split,” but leaning toward caution in reopening.

He said the decision would ultimately stem from the health officials in relation to the virus numbers.

Scarice recapped several new developments that have come down from the state — in particular its decision to yield the choice of a reopening plan — whether full, partial, or a continuation of distance learning — largely to each district.

“We are strongly encouraged to continue with the goal of full on-site schooling,” he said.

The state has finally released the metrics to be used in determining reopening plans, broken down into low-, moderate- and high-risk factors. An average of less than 10 new COVID-19 cases in a week is considered low, 10 to 25 in a week is considered moderate, and more than that is considered high.

Scarice said other factors — what he called second-degree indicators — will also be taken into consideration, including hospitalization and testing rates.

“The Department of Public Health will update these on a weekly basis, we’ve been told,” he said, though they’ll be releasing state numbers by county, not municipality. Scarice said this was good, however, as the virus did not respect town borders.

Several comments came from the public expressing concerns and outlining pedantic plans for meeting the crisis.

One parents suggested the district invest close to $6 million to install a series of HEPA air filter systems, while another stressed a strong desire for a virus-alert network and database that the public can have access to by classroom and school.

Meanwhile the board unanimously approved emergency purchasing power and the waiver of the competitive bidding process for both Scarice and Elio Longo, chief financial officer, for virus-related purchases.

“There are times when you need to act quickly,” Scarice said, with up to $250,000 authorized through Sept. 30.

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020


Westport Town Offices, Schools, & Senior Center are closed.
10 a.m. – via Zoom – Westport Library Book Chat with Nina Sankovitch
2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Westport Library – Open for limited services Closes at 1 p.m.
5 p.m. – 646-876-9923 ID:  857 5594 8313 – Department of Human Services Public Hearing Postponed to Aug. 11
6:30 p.m. – 646-876-9923 ID:  868 3589 0385 – Shellfish Commission

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

In Connecticut Briefing, Fauci Urges a Return to Classroom

While consistent on favoring a return to classroom instructions should the virus allow, Lamont has given mixed messages in recent weeks on whether the decision should rest with the State Board of Education or local school boards. Last week, he tried to split the difference — setting a standard, but not mandating a course.

That has put school superintendents on the hook. They are navigating between unionized teachers dubious of the safety of classroom instruction and parents, many desperate for their children to resume their education and others questioning whether school can be safe, even in a state with a low infection rate.

The debate could be succinctly summarized in three messages quickly sent to the governor on Twitter when he tweeted that Fauci would be joining him in a briefing.

”Please, be open to whatever he has to say about opening schools,” one person said. “Let him know he has the freedom to speak in our state, unlike so many others. We need his wisdom and expertise. Families need to fully understand the risks involved.”

That was followed by a plea to indefinitely postpone a return to the classroom.

“Please rethink opening universities & schools for in person learning. Schools across the country that are doing it are seeing spikes with staff & children. It is not going to be safe. Protect them.”

And another pleaded to open them.

“Open the schools, Ned. I cannot teach my kids and work. One thing is going to be put on the back burner and it’s not going to be my kids.”

Connecticut has outlined three options: Classroom instruction, distant learning or a mix of the two..

The state’s primary indicator for a safe return to school is a rolling seven-day average of new COVID cases staying below 10 per 100,000, which will be monitored weekly on a county basis. The state average is currently 2 per 100,000, with no county above 3.

But school systems already are looking beyond the metrics. Greenwich, for example, said it saw no way for its high school students to maintain social distancing.

Wethersfield has informed parents it will opt for a hybrid plan, allowing small classes and regular cleaning. Students will be divided into two cohorts, with one cohort attending school on Monday and Tuesday and the other on Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, the schools will be cleaned. Online learning will supplement the classroom instruction.

Others are making similar decisions.

Fauci, whose daughter is schoolteacher in New Orleans, said Connecticut currently has “the upper hand” in fighting the virus, broadly hinting that a return to school with strict rules on masks and social distancing is advisable.

“My approach is always, and I’ll say it whether I’m in Connecticut or in any other place, is that the default position should be to try, as best as you possibly can, to open up the schools for in-person learning,” Fauci said.

“It’s important for the children because of the psychological benefit and in some places, even for the nutrition of children who rely on the breakfast and lunches in school for proper nutrition.”

Fauci said negative consequences of keeping schools closed ripple widely, but there is no precise way to balance the public-health risk of reopening schools against the educational and economic losses of keeping them closed.

“It’s a tough thing to balance, because it becomes a judgment call,” Fauci said..

He echoed remarks made recently by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner and Westport resident who has been advising Lamont. Gottlieb said students would benefit from classroom instruction even for a month or two, even if COVID metrics dictate a return to distant learning.

Fauci warned no plan was likely to remain unchanged for the school year.

”You need to be very flexible, with the primary motivating force being the safety and welfare of the children and the teachers,” Fauci said.

Lamont told reporters earlier today that he wanted Fauci to join him in a briefing, because he is a trusted voice, even if the White House has worked assiduously to undermine his message of continued caution and vigilance.

“We had a couple of informal conversations over the last couple of months. You know me, I tend to pick up the phone … and introduce myself and try to get the best insights I can,” Lamont said. “And along the way I invited him, just because he can explain the science of these pandemics in a way that people understand and in a way people trust.”

The governor declined to address President Donald Trump’s criticism today of Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. Trump took issue with Birx saying over the weekend that the pandemic was “extraordinarily widespread” in the U.S., calling her performance in the interview “pathetic.”

“I don’t have to get into that, but I trust Dr. Fauci,” Lamont said. “He has the experience, he has the judgment, he has the independence. I think we’ve known that. He’s stood up and done what’s always right from the very beginning.”

Lamont, whose administration no longer updates COVID data over the weekend, released statistics for the past three days: Only 252 of the 35,173 tests over the period yielded new cases, a positivity rate of seven-tenths of one percent. There were five deaths, and hospitalization fell below 60.

The most troubling metric, Lamont said earlier today, was a spike in cases among teens that he attributed in part to parties.

“I’m aggravated by these parties I keep hearing about, one up here in northeast Connecticut,” Lamont told reporters after an event at UConn in Storrs. “We’ve had more infections of young people the last five days than they’ve had in the last three months, and it’s outrageous. And you’re putting your family and your community at risk.”

While consistent on favoring a return to classroom instructions should the virus allow, Lamont has given mixed messages in recent weeks on whether the decision should rest with the State Board of Education or local school boards. Last week, he tried to split the difference — setting a standard, but not mandating a course.

That has put school superintendents on the hook. They are navigating between unionized teachers dubious of the safety of classroom instruction and parents, many desperate for their children to resume their education and others questioning whether school can be safe, even in a state with a low infection rate.

The debate could be succinctly summarized in three messages quickly sent to the governor on Twitter when he tweeted that Fauci would be joining him in a briefing.

”Please, be open to whatever he has to say about opening schools,” one person said. “Let him know he has the freedom to speak in our state, unlike so many others. We need his wisdom and expertise. Families need to fully understand the risks involved.”

That was followed by a plea to indefinitely postpone a return to the classroom.

“Please rethink opening universities & schools for in person learning. Schools across the country that are doing it are seeing spikes with staff & children. It is not going to be safe. Protect them.”

And another pleaded to open them.

“Open the schools, Ned. I cannot teach my kids and work. One thing is going to be put on the back burner and it’s not going to be my kids.”

Connecticut has outlined three options: Classroom instruction, distant learning or a mix of the two..

The state’s primary indicator for a safe return to school is a rolling seven-day average of new COVID cases staying below 10 per 100,000, which will be monitored weekly on a county basis. The state average is currently 2 per 100,000, with no county above 3.

But school systems already are looking beyond the metrics. Greenwich, for example, said it saw no way for its high school students to maintain social distancing.

Wethersfield has informed parents it will opt for a hybrid plan, allowing small classes and regular cleaning. Students will be divided into two cohorts, with one cohort attending school on Monday and Tuesday and the other on Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, the schools will be cleaned. Online learning will supplement the classroom instruction.

Others are making similar decisions.

Fauci, whose daughter is schoolteacher in New Orleans, said Connecticut currently has “the upper hand” in fighting the virus, broadly hinting that a return to school with strict rules on masks and social distancing is advisable.

“My approach is always, and I’ll say it whether I’m in Connecticut or in any other place, is that the default position should be to try, as best as you possibly can, to open up the schools for in-person learning,” Fauci said.

“It’s important for the children because of the psychological benefit and in some places, even for the nutrition of children who rely on the breakfast and lunches in school for proper nutrition.”

Fauci said negative consequences of keeping schools closed ripple widely, but there is no precise way to balance the public-health risk of reopening schools against the educational and economic losses of keeping them closed.

“It’s a tough thing to balance, because it becomes a judgment call,” Fauci said..

He echoed remarks made recently by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner and Westport resident who has been advising Lamont. Gottlieb said students would benefit from classroom instruction even for a month or two, even if COVID metrics dictate a return to distant learning.

Fauci warned no plan was likely to remain unchanged for the school year.

”You need to be very flexible, with the primary motivating force being the safety and welfare of the children and the teachers,” Fauci said.

Lamont told reporters earlier today that he wanted Fauci to join him in a briefing, because he is a trusted voice, even if the White House has worked assiduously to undermine his message of continued caution and vigilance.

“We had a couple of informal conversations over the last couple of months. You know me, I tend to pick up the phone … and introduce myself and try to get the best insights I can,” Lamont said. “And along the way I invited him, just because he can explain the science of these pandemics in a way that people understand and in a way people trust.”

The governor declined to address President Donald Trump’s criticism today of Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. Trump took issue with Birx saying over the weekend that the pandemic was “extraordinarily widespread” in the U.S., calling her performance in the interview “pathetic.”

“I don’t have to get into that, but I trust Dr. Fauci,” Lamont said. “He has the experience, he has the judgment, he has the independence. I think we’ve known that. He’s stood up and done what’s always right from the very beginning.”

Lamont, whose administration no longer updates COVID data over the weekend, released statistics for the past three days: Only 252 of the 35,173 tests over the period yielded new cases, a positivity rate of seven-tenths of one percent. There were five deaths, and hospitalization fell below 60.

The most troubling metric, Lamont said earlier today, was a spike in cases among teens that he attributed in part to parties.

“I’m aggravated by these parties I keep hearing about, one up here in northeast Connecticut,” Lamont told reporters after an event at UConn in Storrs. “We’ve had more infections of young people the last five days than they’ve had in the last three months, and it’s outrageous. And you’re putting your family and your community at risk.”

New BOE Member Appointed

Heyer, a Staples High School graduate herself, received an MBA from the Columbia Business School, following a 10-year career at American Express. She has been an active PTA member, working on various committees, and also coaches soccer.

Town Clark Patty Strauss went to Heyer’s home tonight to swear her in live, alongside her husband and three children, so she became a participating member of the board immediately.

BOE Secretary Elaine Whitney said six candidates applied for the open seat last month, which was left for a Republican to fill.

“We have been extremely fortunate in Westport to have an exceptional pool of candidates for this vacancy,” she said, noting that three of the candidates were actually interviewed by the board, with Heyer and one other candidate undergoing a second interview.

“I’m looking forward to working with all the existing board members, as well as the administration … as we really work to navigate a path forward in what (is a) very unexpected and challenging time,” Heyer said.

“I know there’s definitely some work there,” she said.

Heyer, a Staples High School graduate herself, received an MBA from the Columbia Business School, following a 10-year career at American Express. She has been an active PTA member, working on various committees, and also coaches soccer.

Town Clark Patty Strauss went to Heyer’s home tonight to swear her in live, alongside her husband and three children, so she became a participating member of the board immediately.

BOE Secretary Elaine Whitney said six candidates applied for the open seat last month, which was left for a Republican to fill.

“We have been extremely fortunate in Westport to have an exceptional pool of candidates for this vacancy,” she said, noting that three of the candidates were actually interviewed by the board, with Heyer and one other candidate undergoing a second interview.

“I’m looking forward to working with all the existing board members, as well as the administration … as we really work to navigate a path forward in what (is a) very unexpected and challenging time,” Heyer said.

“I know there’s definitely some work there,” she said.

Town Officials: Begin Storm Preparations Now

“According to the National Weather Service, Tropical Storm Isaias is now forecast to make its closest approach early Tuesday,” a statement said.

“Tropical storm force winds are expected to arrive a few hours later at approximately 2 p.m.. The latest model indicates that the tropical storm will be packing sustained winds of 40-50 MPH with gusts to 70 MPH when it arrives.” 

“According to the National Weather Service, Tropical Storm Isaias is now forecast to make its closest approach early Tuesday,” a statement said.

“Tropical storm force winds are expected to arrive a few hours later at approximately 2 p.m.. The latest model indicates that the tropical storm will be packing sustained winds of 40-50 MPH with gusts to 70 MPH when it arrives.” 

Charles A. Durakis, 90

Charlie found consistent professional success at companies like General Electric, Famous Artist Schools, and Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics. In 1974 Charlie found his true calling as a founder of Richard’s Consultants, an executive search firm that flourished under his leadership and is still in existence today and run by his son Chuck.

As accomplished as he was professionally, there is no doubt that family was his ultimate focus. At the height of his corporate success he left Manhattan and the long commute from Westport to open a smaller office closer to home.

All four children remember their dad cheering them energetically from the sidelines. His life was organized around his family and nothing made him happier than watching his children and eventually grandchildren compete in the sports they loved.
.As the family grew, getting together became more challenging but not impossible. Family trips and holidays were a yearly highlight for all.

Charlie loved to golf and was an avid golfer well into his 80s — and even “shot his age” by firing an 85 at the ripe age of 86. He spent many happy hours playing cards and cribbage with his grandchildren and was a patient teacher and a gracious competitor in victory or defeat.

Charlie lived his life with a “glass-half-full” perspective. He was a supportive, caring, loving, and a generous husband and parent. He valued education and hard work. He listened thoughtfully and his advice was appreciated. All of these qualities he passed along to his children and grandchildren. Thank you, Charlie (Dad / Papa).

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Online condolences available at: http://www.fullernaples.com

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Avow Foundation, 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, FL 34105.

Charlie found consistent professional success at companies like General Electric, Famous Artist Schools, and Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics. In 1974 Charlie found his true calling as a founder of Richard’s Consultants, an executive search firm that flourished under his leadership and is still in existence today and run by his son Chuck.

As accomplished as he was professionally, there is no doubt that family was his ultimate focus. At the height of his corporate success he left Manhattan and the long commute from Westport to open a smaller office closer to home.

All four children remember their dad cheering them energetically from the sidelines. His life was organized around his family and nothing made him happier than watching his children and eventually grandchildren compete in the sports they loved.
.As the family grew, getting together became more challenging but not impossible. Family trips and holidays were a yearly highlight for all.

Charlie loved to golf and was an avid golfer well into his 80s — and even “shot his age” by firing an 85 at the ripe age of 86. He spent many happy hours playing cards and cribbage with his grandchildren and was a patient teacher and a gracious competitor in victory or defeat.

Charlie lived his life with a “glass-half-full” perspective. He was a supportive, caring, loving, and a generous husband and parent. He valued education and hard work. He listened thoughtfully and his advice was appreciated. All of these qualities he passed along to his children and grandchildren. Thank you, Charlie (Dad / Papa).

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Online condolences available at: http://www.fullernaples.com

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Avow Foundation, 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, FL 34105.

Arrest Follows Audi Rollover at 14th Hole Sand Trap

He said that through the officers’ investigation, it was suspected that at least two occupants had been in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Officers searched the area and found two individuals running on Compo Road South in the area of Longshore. One of the two was the lease holder Dewitt.

After being taken into custody, he was released after posting a $400 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Stamford Superior Court on Wednesday, Aug. 12

He said that through the officers’ investigation, it was suspected that at least two occupants had been in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Officers searched the area and found two individuals running on Compo Road South in the area of Longshore. One of the two was the lease holder Dewitt.

After being taken into custody, he was released after posting a $400 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Stamford Superior Court on Wednesday, Aug. 12