Thursday, December 02, 2021

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Superintendent Scarice: Positive COVID-19 Case at Coleytown Elementary

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

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

This afternoon, Mrs. Janna Sirowich, Principal of Coleytown Elementary School, was made aware of an individual in the school who tested positive for COVID-19. The affected person will be excluded from the school environment and has been instructed to quarantine at home. 

Upon learning of the positive COVID-19 case, the administration began immediate contact tracing. Those determined to be “close contacts”, including the health office staff at Coleytown Elementary School, have been notified. These individuals spent a significant amount of time in the presence of the positive case, and as a result, were informed that they will be excluded from the school environment and recommended to quarantine for 14 days from the date of contact, October 30. Other nursing staff will be assigned to the Coleytown Elementary School health office during the quarantine period.

As I have shared in prior communications of a similar nature, 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 5 and 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.

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.  Judgement will be used and each case might look a little different from another.

As we return to school tomorrow after the Halloween weekend, it is important that all students and staff continue to screen themselves daily prior to coming to school. As noted on the District’s Reopening Our Schools page:

Parents/guardians/staff will be asked to conduct daily screening of students or themselves each day prior to coming to school.  Per CDC, CT. State Department of Education and Department of Public Health interim guidance, this screening should include:

  • Temperature of 100.4 of higher when taken by mouth
  • Chills
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Headache, especially with a fever

There are other more non-specific signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that can range from mild to severe and any person who feels ill should stay home.

Sincerely,
Thomas Scarice
Superintendent of Schools

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