New Canaan Public Schools officials say they’ve updated a quarantining requirement that affects many sports-oriented families.
Until this week, if a family traveled out-of-state for more than 24 hours for a sports tournament, they’d be required to quarantine for a minimum of seven days after testing negative for COVID-19 virus on their return, or 10 days without a test-out, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Board of Education said during the elected body’s meeting last week.
Luizzi said during the meeting, held May 3 via videoconference, that he and others were seeking approval from health officials to update the change the requirement so that kids involved in sports could return to school faster.
In email to the school community Tuesday, Luizzi said district officials now are allowing students to return to in-person learning with a negative PCR test after returning to Connecticut.
“Having raised two daughters who are both student-athletes, I know the challenges this particular DPH/CDC guideline may have caused, and I’m thrilled to be making this welcome adjustment to our protocols,” he said in the email.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s guidance is based on that of the CDC, and is more strict than rules that apply to other types of travel, Luizzi said during the Board of Ed meeting.
“When I asked them about why—why this is different from any other kind of travel—what they said was the expectation that when students and families go to tournaments, they’re going to be spending most of their time off the field, together with multiple households in the same setting,” Luizzi said.
“They will go to dinner together. They will be spending the day together on the sidelines. They will be going to hotels together. So with that assumption, they put this rule in place. What we are looking at is, is there a way to say, look, when you get back to Connecticut, take a test, get a negative test and come on in. Instead of saying a 7-day minimum. I think that’s a more reasonable standard to follow.”
The comments came during Luizzi’s regular update on COVID-19 and in response to a question from Board of Ed member Bob Naughton.
The issue is “getting hot,” Naughton said, with many regional baseball and lacrosse tournaments scheduled.
“What if they get out of state within 23 hours?” he said. “I mean it seems kind of crazy.”
Luizzi said he was working with the head of the New Canaan Health Department, as well as local doctors and nurses, “to see if there is a way we can shorten the sports tournament quarantine and if there is something we can do with our 10 days, maybe bringing that down to seven with a test-out option for students after the fifth day.”
“Because we know, especially as we get to the end of the school year, every day is even more valuable because there are fewer and fewer of them left,” he said. “So we are reviewing that and hope to make some decisions about that very soon.”
Luizzi reported in his update at the meeting that 97% of NCPS students are now doing in-person learning every day, with 3% opting for distance learning (the figures do not include those in quarantine). The state also has issued guidance regarding remote learning in the fall and “they do not anticipate need to require districts to provide an option for families to opt in to a voluntary remote program after this year,” he said.
As of the meeting, 100% of NCPS administrators, 91% of teachers and 82% of overall staff, faculty and others that a student would possibly come into contact with at school have been vaccinated, Luizzi said.
“So I think we are doing very, very well,” he said.
The district had run a clinic for students the prior week and it “had a pretty good showing,” opening up extra spots to surrounding towns and getting response from Darien, Westport and Wilton.
“If and when the FDA approves the vaccine for 12-and-up, then we are working with the Health Department and we’ll look to run another clinic for anyone interested in New Canaan for those kids, as well<“ he said. “And then if there are other high school students that have been on the fence or are others that haven’t done it and area ready to do it now, they’ll be able to take that as well. So we are waiting for that approval. And as long as we can get the vaccines, we’ll run another clinic.”
Asked by Board of Ed member Penny Rashin whether the district has set goals or expectations regarding the percentage of staff and teachers who are vaccinated, Luizzi said the figures are self-reported and may be higher than what is known.
“Of course we do go into it hoping for 100% across-the-board, because we do know and believe this is the most powerful strategy to follow to put an end to the pandemic,” he said. “They talk about ‘herd immunity’ and all of that, but our goal is really to get as many people vaccinated as we can. Continue the messaging around the safety of it.”