Church during a pandemic

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I serve as pastor of the Rowayton United Methodist Church, and we have been adapting as well as we can to the challenges of ministry during the pandemic. Our understanding of church is that we are a resource to the community, and so we have tried to live that out in finding new ways to support our neighbors.

For the last three weeks, we have been having our weekly 10 a.m. Sunday morning worship services online. Initially, my thought was to record myself reading scripture and offering an accompanying inspirational sermon, and then uploading it for congregants to watch at their convenience. I reconsidered after mulling over the impact of social isolation that has been so difficult for so many of us. Ours is a small community, and I realized that one of the most important reasons for online worship is to encourage, support and care for as many people as we can. We ended up conducting worship via Zoom, in particular because when we pray, it allows anyone in worship with us to raise up a concern, and we are able to pray together as a community. Everyone present can hear what is said, and everyone’s voices come together, saying “Lord, hear our prayer.” The sense of community created was so strong that when worship is over, people requested that we leave Zoom open for a Virtual Coffee Hour. Continue reading Church during a pandemic


Opinion: It’s time for ‘no excuse’ absentee voting

Bruce Kimmel

I wholeheartedly agree with The Hour’s recent editorial on “no excuse” absentee voting for the June 2 presidential primary. We need to guarantee that voters remain safe during what has become an international health crisis. And the best way to do that is for Governor Lamont to use his emergency powers to implement “no excuse” absentee voting, which would allow any voter to vote by mail. Secretary of State Denise Merrill has already called for the governor to make this move.

But long term, I believe it’s time for Connecticut to modernize its election rules, even though we’ve been well ahead of the curve nationally: In 2013, we implemented election day registration. In 2014, we began using online voter registration. In 2016, we implemented electronic registration at Department of Motor Vehicle offices. Continue reading Opinion: It’s time for ‘no excuse’ absentee voting


Opinion: Not a lost year for NPS students

Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon.

NancyOnNorwalk recently asked Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon for her opinion on the “distance learning” now being conducted by Norwalk Public Schools. This is her response.

The Norwalk Federation of Teachers leadership is proud of the work that Norwalk Public Schools is doing in distance learning. Norwalk is very well positioned compared to many other districts in the state. Teachers everywhere are stepping up to the needs of the students during this time.

Some districts are starting to create the kind of environment of tech skills and access for students that we had going into this crisis. Teachers here didn’t miss a day of work, but others needed time to regroup. Our head start is due to several years of increasing the number of Chromebooks and other machines, while slowly building tech skills and an infrastructure of tech for learning and teaching. Continue reading Opinion: Not a lost year for NPS students


COVID-19 will alter daily life in Connecticut for months; peak expected in 2.5 weeks

Master Sergeant Gregory Jones of the Connecticut Air National Guard watches as supplies are loaded at the Moore Field House at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven earlier this week. A mask hangs from his neck. (Ryan Caron King, Connecticut Public Radio)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut officials are bracing themselves for a peak in coronavirus cases to hit Fairfield County in mid-to-late April, before the virus surges across New Haven, Hartford and eastern Connecticut, according to projections released Friday.

Predictions of the surge came on a milestone day for the state: Exactly four weeks ago, Connecticut announced its first COVID-19 infection at Danbury Hospital.

The latest tallies Friday underscored the speed and severity of the pandemic. Gov. Ned Lamont said Connecticut recorded an additional 1,000 positive cases, bringing the overall case count to nearly 5,000. Continue reading COVID-19 will alter daily life in Connecticut for months; peak expected in 2.5 weeks



Norwalk Public Schools’ staff reach out to home-bound students, online and in cars

Jefferson Elementary School staff members parade through the intersection of Truman Street and Glenwood Avenue during Thursday’s “outdoor assembly.” (Harold F. Cobin)

NORWALK, Conn. — The distance between Jefferson Elementary School teachers and their students shrank considerably Thursday as the teachers rode in a caravan through the kids’ neighborhood.

The morning teacher parade wasn’t the first vehicle-driven outreach to students: Marvin was first to organize a caravan, Fox Run Elementary School as done it and Wolfpit has “Wolfie” out waving to families. Other strategies for closing the gap while the kids are “distance learning” under the threat posed by a pandemic include YouTube story hours, closed Facebook page chats and spirit weeks.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story Continue reading Norwalk Public Schools’ staff reach out to home-bound students, online and in cars


Norwalk parents’ frustrations boil over, but positive suggestions abound

Maddie from Brien McMahon High School, Kenneth from Roton Middle School and Sebastian from Brookside Elementary work at distance learning recently. (Norwalk Public Schools)

NORWALK, Conn. — Several weeks into the grand experiment of “distance learning” necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Norwalk parents’ attitudes run the gamut from optimistic problem solving to utter desperation.  A sampling of recent quotes from Facebook’s Norwalk Parents for Education page reflects the scattered array of opinions and emotions: Continue reading Norwalk parents’ frustrations boil over, but positive suggestions abound



COVID-19: Deaths continue, ‘less infections’

A chart from Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling’s Thursday update.

NORWALK, Conn. — The latest COVID-19 numbers show more deaths in Norwalk.

“Since yesterday, there are 15 new positive cases in Norwalk, bringing the total positive reported cases in Norwalk to 330. There were also two new deaths reported. Now, a total of 17 Norwalk residents have died as a result of coronavirus. In Fairfield County, the number of new positive cases went from 1,986 to 2,132,” Mayor Harry Rilling’s evening update said. Continue reading COVID-19: Deaths continue, ‘less infections’


For high school seniors, a lost year

Brien McMahon High School senior Jackson Dino, outside the closed school. (Contributed)

NORWALK, Conn. — This was our year. Until it vanished.

2020 was to be the year of graduation ceremonies, of academic achievements recognized. A final ride of merriment – parties, proms, and endless fun – before venturing into the unknown of post-secondary education, or joining the global workforce.

But for the 414 students in the graduating class of 2020 at Brien McMahon High School, myself included, that rite of passage has evaporated. Our senior year dreams have been crushed – a victim of the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading For high school seniors, a lost year


State Task Force targets April, May for laptop distribution to aid remote learning

A Norwalk family, working hard at distance learning. (Norwalk Public Schools)

Connecticut’s COVID–19 “Learn from Home Task Force” announced on Wednesday that plans to distribute 60,000 laptops to high school students and 185,000 take–home learning packets to students in preschool to grade 8 across the state’s 33 Alliance Districts are moving forward.

The laptops won’t arrive all at once, but instead task force members said they believe they’ll come “in waves,” while the packets could be available within the next three weeks. Continue reading State Task Force targets April, May for laptop distribution to aid remote learning


Shout out to NPS

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I want to give a shout out to the Norwalk Public School System especially to the teachers at Nathan Hale. They have gone beyond the call of duty. As, I don’t always agree with the administration, I must say this School system ROCKS!!

Norwalk should be an example to school systems across the nation. You are on top of the students as if they were in the classrooms. The communication is great whether it is calling, texting, emailing, or zooming.

I am proud to live in this place called Norwalk.
Brenda Penn-Williams, President NAACP


An infant has died from COVID-19 in CT; state turns gymnasiums into mobile field hospitals

Moore Fieldhouse at Southern Connecticut State University. (Ryan Caron King, Connecticut Public Radio)

Connecticut began what’s expected to be its worst month of illness, death, and hospitalizations from the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic with the grim announcement Wednesday that the disease has claimed its youngest victim to date — a seven month old baby.

The disease that has claimed the lives of 85 people in Connecticut so far, the vast majority of them over the age of 70. The infant’s death was one of the 16 new fatalities the governor’s office reported Wednesday. Continue reading An infant has died from COVID-19 in CT; state turns gymnasiums into mobile field hospitals