Coronavirus Surge Focus Of Wallingford School Board Meeting

WALLINGFORD, CT — With coronavirus cases surging in town, the Wallingford Board of Education will hold a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of moving to full distance learning for an extended period.

The special Board of Education meeting will be held remotely at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The meeting will be devoted to discussing the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and the district’s response, according to Superintendent Salvatore Menzo. Wallingford Health Department Director Stephen Civitelli and Kathy Neelon, the school district’s nursing coordinator, will update the board and “discuss next steps,” according to Menzo.

There have been 228 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Wallingford since Nov. 8, including 80 cases within the last three days, according to state health officials.

Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel A. Cardona recently communicated to all superintendents the importance of in-person learning for students. Several school districts have decided to switch to full remote learning through Thanksgiving and the other upcoming holidays.

State and health officials last week said they didn’t think “arbitrary, date-based closures of school are warranted at this time,” according to the message sent to superintendents.

“We will continue to consult with and work with school districts, local health departments and medical advisors on individual decisions around closures, but are not recommending that districts proactively close for a prolonged period of time in anticipation of changes in disease prevalence,” officials wrote in the message. “In-person education is too important for our children to disrupt their education further, unless and until local conditions specifically dictate the need to do so.”

The mitigation strategies that have been put in place in schools (masks, distancing, cleaning and hygiene, ventilation, cohorting, etc.) are working and officials haven’t seen “sustained person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in schools or outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools, despite increasing levels of COVID-19 in the community,” according to the message.

However, several schools in Wallingford have been forced to temporarily close for distance learning due to the impact of quarantining and a lack of staff to provide in-person instruction.

“Needless to say, this is not an easy time for any of us,” Menzo said in his weekly update on Monday. “That is why I wanted to call this meeting to share with the Board of Education the data and the impact that the recent increase in confirmed community-based cases has had on our students and staff.”

The school district’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported on Sept. 13 and there have been 77 additional cases since that time, according to Menzo’s planned presentation for Tuesday’s meeting. There have been 28 confirmed student and staff cases in the district from Nov. 9 to Nov. 13.

Surrounding school districts deciding to close is also having an impact on Wallingford staff. There are 40 staff members in Wallingford that are impacted by other school districts or day cares closing, according to Menzo.

The special Board of Education meeting can be viewed live on YouTube here.

This article originally appeared on the Wallingford Patch

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