School districts weigh closing classrooms or entire buildings as COVID-19 cases appear in schools | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

WALLINGFORD — Dag Hammarskjöld Middle School is undergoing cleaning and students will be learning from home until at least Wednesday after an individual associated with the school tested positive for COVID-19. The school joins others in the state that recently closed temporarily since the start of the school year due to COVID cases.

“The decision to close school for the next two days was made with the Wallingford Health Department out of an abundance of caution,” Wallingford Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo said. “The building is being cleaned today, and those who have been determined to have been in close contact with the case will be contacted with next steps.”

A statement posted to the school district’s website on Sunday said that contact tracing is underway to determine who may have come in contact with the individual. The statement was signed by Menzo, Wallingford Director of Health Stephen Civitelli and Nurse Coordinator Kathy Neelon.

Civitelli said additional information about the circumstances to close the school rather than individual classrooms could not be divulged because it could identify the individual.

“At this point I can’t comment too much on what’s going on because it could identify individuals in the school,” he said.

The district’s decision chart, which details what responses will be taken should individuals test positive for COVID-19 or come in contact with an individual who has, states that those who receive a positive test result should “remain at home (except to get medical care), monitor symptoms, notify the school immediately, assist the school in contact tracing efforts and answer phone calls from public health officials/contact tracing staff.”

Self isolation should last at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms and at least 24 hours without a fever.

While speaking on WNPR on Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont said he does not agree with the practice of closing schools in response to isolated cases of coronavirus.

“No, no, no, no,” he said. “Especially for K through 8, we’re trying to keep that 4th grade class unto itself as a pod as a cohort. So that if there happens to be an infection in that one class, it’s just those 20 students and that teacher who would have to quarantine — not the entire middle school or not the entire school.”

Schools in East Hartford, Westbrook, West Haven, Killingly and Bridgeport have temporarily closed after positive tests among their populations.

Civitelli said the district has been receiving guidance from the state regarding closing classrooms and schools for quarantining, however, there are still many situations not covered in their releases. He was unaware of Lamont’s comments Monday, however, and said he could not address them.

“They don’t cover all the scenarios so a lot of it has to be worked through … no two (situations) are the same so that’s why it takes time to work through the process,” he said.

Students at Dag will be engaging in online learning for the time that the building is closed.

Menzo said he believes the distance learning plan put in place has prepared students to transition away from in-person instruction without a lapse in their education.

“We do believe that distance learning will provide continuity for our students due to the hard work and preparation of our teachers,” he said. “The schedule had already been developed and disseminated to all staff and families.  The middle school students were in Google classrooms from the first day of school.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.

dleithyessian@record-journal.com203-317-2317Twitter: @leith_yessian

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