By Jarret Liotta
Students may finally be back at Coleytown Middle School (CMS) by Dec. 14, but school officials can’t guarantee it.
Monday night the Board of Education (BOE) heard details about the transition plans, which will require Dec. 9 and 10 becoming fully remote school days for all middle school students to augment the move of equipment and furniture from Bedford Middle School (BMS) to CMS.
“I just want to be clear with the public … There is some level of risk and there are some pieces that aren’t gonna be inherently in our control,” cautioned BOE Chair Candice Savin in regard to the dates.
“At this point right now we’re looking at Nov. 20 as being the date that the building committee will hand the building over to the board,” Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice said.
CMS principal Kris Szabo outlined various phases of the transition process, emphasizing not only that a general first-time orientation is necessary for two-thirds of the incoming CMS students—namely grades six and seven—but also that the transition is tantamount to restarting the school year.
“This is gonna be like a brand new school year,” she said, with schedules having to be changed for both BMS and CMS students.
“Even though we’re going to keep the kids on their core teams … their encore classes will have changed,” she said, as will staff schedules as a result of the split.
“There are going to be some shifts there for students,” Szabo said.
“We’re working to have our community understand that there may be a few little bumps in the road and to be … forgiving of that,” she said.
While some moving and interior cleaning will take place through November, Szabo said the intention is to bus students over from BMS to CMS on Dec. 7 and 8 in their respective cohorts in order to tour the school.
On Wednesday, Dec. 9, SmartBoards will be disassembled at BMS, with packing, transition, and set-up occurring the next two days at CMS with students on remote schedules at both schools.
“It’s not a lot of time,” Szabo said, but having both buildings empty of students will help streamline the process.
While some parents have suggested they put off relocation until January, school officials believe it will be best to have the week to acclimate and begin testing procedures.
“It gives us essentially one week with kids in school,” Szabo said, prior to winter recess, which begins Dec. 24.
“So, the little bit of time we have in that time, we can iron out some of the kinks and over that winter break address anything,” she said.
Though it took no action—nor did it hear any new recommendations—the BOE was also informed by Suzanne Levasseur, supervisor of health services, that virus numbers continue to climb in Connecticut and Fairfield County.
State numbers show a rise from 6.8 to 7.9 this week overall for cases per 100,000, while in Fairfield County it rose from 5.4 last week to 6.4 this week.
“I think the take-home point is that these numbers continue to remain low overall … but they continue to rise,” she said.
“They had 13 cases that were positive in Westport this week … Over the summer they were seeing approximately one to two a week,” she said.
“We do have more students and staff on quarantine and I do think that is a direct result of more cases in our community,” Levasseur said, noting the state sees more cases spreading from the eastern side of Connecticut toward Westport in the coming weeks.
Scarice noted that some of this is the result of “fatigue,” with people not taking as much care to protect themselves.
“A lot of this is happening in small gatherings,” Levasseur said of the infections, which she said are showing larger numbers among young adults.