Citing a sharp rise in the number of New Canaan High School students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the holidays, the Farm Road facility will operate under a hybrid learning model starting Monday, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said.
Just half of the student body will be in the NCHS building at a given time following one week of fully remote learning, Luizzi told the New Canaan Public Schools community in an email Sunday.
Plans originally had called for about 75% of students to start this week with in-person learning, yet “[r]emaining in a traditional hybrid at NCHS for the short-term reduces population density, which strengthens the mitigation strategies, reduces the likelihood of close-contact with a positive case, decreases the number of quarantines required when there is a positive case, and, ultimately, minimizes the likelihood of spread in school,” Luizzi said in the email.
“We are excited to move to the Hybrid Plus plan, and to begin enjoying all of the benefits it will bring to our school community; however, first and foremost, we remain steadfast in our commitment to prioritize health, safety, and wellness above all else, and the current data does not indicate Monday is the right time for its implementation,” he said.
As of Jan. 8, 30 NCHS students were isolating as a result fo positive COVID-19 tests, with 23 in quarantine as a result of close contact with a positive case—up from five and 14, respectively, on Dec. 23.
During a meeting Thursday, members of the Health & Human Services Commission voiced concerns about school families who extended vacations instead staying home with kids learning remotely last week, and in so doing provide a buffer against COVID-19 infections.
Studnets pre-K through grade 8 will return to 100% in-person instruction, the model they’d been under when school broke Dec. 23 for the holidays, Luizzi said.
He reminded school families of Gov. Ned Lamont’s travel advisory, which includes either a 10-day quarantine or testing within 72 hours of returning to Connecticut and for every traveler to submit the Connecticut Travel Health Form.
“These guidelines are designed to help reduce the spread of the virus, and they are our minimum expectations for our school community,” Luizzi said.
Luizzi toward the end of his email referred to Wednesday’s events in Washington, D.C., as Congress worked toward certifying the results of November’s general election. As widely reported following a Tweet by state Sen. Will Haskell (D-26th), one NCPS parent sent an ugly message back to district officials in response to an email about resources available to parents regarding how to talk their children about the violent mob.
“The events in Washington DC this past week were jarring and emotional, and we’re watching in real time as our country struggles to find a path forward,” he said. “In 1938, FDR wrote, ‘Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.’ The need for an educated electorate is yet another reason why I believe our work is the most important work on the planet, and why I am so proud to be doing it alongside each of you.”