Superintendent Thomas Scarce sent the following email to parents today:
Earlier today Dr. Debra Dunn, Principal of Long Lots Elementary School, learned of another positive COVID-19 test in the school. The affected individual was already under quarantine at home and will continue to be excluded from the school environment.
Upon learning of the positive COVID-19 case, the administration began immediate contact tracing. Those determined to be “close contacts,” including some staff members, and another fourth grade class of students, separate from the one I shared on October 15, 2020, have been notified. These individuals spent a significant amount of time in the presence of the positive case, and as a result, were informed that they will be excluded from the school environment and recommended to quarantine for 14 days and may return to school on October 30. They were also asked to reach out to their health care provider should they develop any symptoms consistent with COVID-19. To be clear, siblings and other family members of these children and staff do not need to quarantine.
As I have shared in prior communications of a similar nature, working closely with the Westport/Weston Health District and our medical advisor, it has been confirmed that the staff and students have implemented our mitigating measures by maintaining distance to the maximum extent possible, and by wearing masks. However, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)/Department of Public Health (DPH) guidance (Addendum 5 and Addendum 9) indicates that decisions for exclusion from school and quarantine will be based on the individual circumstances of each case, including those who have spent a significant amount of time (i.e. more than 15 minutes) in the presence of a positive case, regardless of mask wearing.
The school district administration is required to comply with all applicable laws and regulations regarding student and employee confidentiality and privacy. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) precludes sharing the identity of an individual, with the exception of sharing the individual’s identity with a public health agency (e.g., Westport/Weston Health District). In addition, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents the school district from publicly sharing personally identifiable information derived from student education records.
In light of these confidentiality and privacy protections and our related legal obligations, as well as the need to protect the health and safety of the school community, we will continue to adhere to the appropriate means of notifying the school community of possible exposure to COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. Judgement will be used and each case might look a little different from another.
Our administrators and staff involved with contact tracing remain diligent with their work. While the idea of quarantining can be unnerving, our experience with these cases is continued evidence that our mitigating measures have helped prevent or minimize additional spread in our schools from positive cases. I am confident our approach to addressing the safety of students and staff during the pandemic will continue to serve the entire community well.