Superintendent: District Officials ‘Optimistic’ for NCHS Class of ’21 Graduation Ceremony at Dunning with Students and Parents

District officials said this week that they’re hopeful New Canaan High School’s class of 2021 will be able to have a graduation ceremony at Dunning Field with at least parents in attendance and possibly others. The state issued guidance on end-of-year events and it includes many of the strategies long in place at New Canaan Public Schools, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting Monday night. Those strategies include wearing masks, social distancing, limiting the number of people in attendance, keeping track of who’s there, providing hand sanitizer and prohibiting anyone showing symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19 virus from attending, he said. Graduation ceremonies, specifically, are to be held outdoors, Luizzi said during the meeting, held via videoconference. Luizzi said he met with NCHS Principal Bill Egan and Athletic Director Jay Egan to figure out “how can we safely hold a graduation for our families that at least gets the students and their parents in and maybe does a little bit more.”

“We’ve got to work within the limitations of the facility, but we do have the great fortune of having Dunning to use for graduation.

Town Approves Contract for Electrical Work at NCHS Track

The Board of Selectmen at its most recent meeting approved a $17,000 contract with a Darien-based company to install power outlets at the finish lines at the New Canaan High School track. As it is, a generator is rolled out onto the field to power up timing devices and scoreboards for track and field events at NCHS, according to Joe Zagarenski, senior engineer with the town Department of Public Works. Under a contract with Darien Electrical Contracting Inc., power will be installed in a shed near the Waveny water tower and will also come down to the finish lines at the track. The work would “get rid of the need for bringing a generator out to the track,” Zagarenski told the selectmen at their March 9 meeting, held via videoconference. 

“So needless to say, the high school Athletic Department is very supportive of this project,” he said. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the contract. 

Williams said he was “a little befuddled as to why this wasn’t done when we redid the track in the first place, years ago.” (Williams served on the Fields Building Committee that oversaw the water tower turf field and track projects.)

Zagarenski said conduits had been put in place as part of the original project, but installation of bleachers and grandstand seating was higher priority.

‘That’s the Reality of the World We Are In’: Superintendent Updates Board of Ed As K-12 Nears Full In-Person Learning

Transitioning all New Canaan Public Schools students back into full in-person learning from 50% to 75% and, this week, 100%, has been helpful in getting students, families and staff accustomed to strategies designed to mitigate transmission of COVID-19 virus, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said Monday night. So far this week, officials have received very good reports on the return of New Canaan High School seniors to 100% in-person learning “and we anticipate the same for our juniors and then our ninth- and tenth-graders on Wednesday,” according to Luizzi. 

“It does mean when there are positive cases there are likely to be more quarantines, because of the balance between running at full capacity and maintaining that social distance of six feet, people understand that,” he said during a regular meeting of the Board of Education, held via videoconference. 

“When I sent out the announcements about bringing back the seniors and phasing everybody back in, that same day we had a positive case at Saxe and a positive case at one of our elementaries, and we had to quarantine a classroom at the elementary and a team at Saxe for a period of time. That’s the reality of the world we are in. So we have the great news about bringing those kids back. But we also just have to be grounded in the reality that when a positive case arises, we are still using those mitigation strategies.”

The comments came during Luizzi’s regular update on COVID-19 and the schools, whose buildings had been closed almost exactly one year earlier as the pandemic set in.