NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Public Schools will be closed for two weeks, beginning Monday. On the same day, City Hall will be operating with limited staff and scaled-back services.
The schools will have a 2- hour early dismissal on Friday, and City Hall will close at 1 p.m.
“There is a growing concern of coronavirus affecting our residents and community spread is likely,” Mayor Harry Riling is quoted as saying in a press release. “Our Health Experts determined the best course of action is social distancing. We cannot stop government completely, but I made the tough decision to significantly scale back the services we provide and the number of staff who report to City Hall.”
“The decision to close schools is never an easy one,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski said in a letter. “But these are unprecedented times for our community and the country overall. The health of our students and staff, and in this case, our community, is the number one priority. Closing schools is a proactive measure that we need to take to protect students, staff and families.”
“This was not a decision I came to lightly, and I understand it will cause inconvenience, but my top priority is public safety,” Rilling said. “I appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation as we navigate these unprecedented times together.”
Novel coronavirus is spreading
The number of positive COVID19 tests in Connecticut doubled Thursday, from three to six.
“Of the three new cases, one is a resident of Stamford who is a female in her 60s and recently returned from a trip to Italy,” a press release from the Governor’s Office said. “She is currently hospitalized at Stamford Hospital. Another case involves a young woman in her 20s who lives in New York but was seen as an outpatient at Greenwich Hospital. She is recovering at home. The third positive case involves a child who lives in Stratford and is currently at home recovering. That child had been exposed to another known positive case.”
“While at this time there is no confirmed COVID-19 exposure at our schools, the Norwalk Health Department has shared with us that it is reasonable to expect community transmission in our area,” Adamowski wrote. “…Earlier this afternoon, Governor Lamont announced that Connecticut will waive the requirement that schools must be in session for 180 days a year, giving us flexibility if we need it.”
School children to receive packets Friday
“NPS staff has spent all day today preparing for our Distance Learning Plan. Tomorrow, elementary students will receive packets to take home that will cover 10 days of instruction. Secondary students (6-12) will pick up Chromebooks and chargers so that they will be able to access instruction via Google Classroom. Special Education staff has also been preparing specific online and at home learning plans for students with disabilities as well as plans for providing services. We are also finalizing access to meals for students with more information available tomorrow. Students will be directed to bring home any necessary school materials, including books and musical instruments.
“As we begin to implement at-home learning, parents and students will receive further instructions via email tomorrow.”
Adamowski urged families to employ “social distancing,” recommended by the Centers for Disease Control as the most effective way to limit the risk of exposure or spreading the virus.
“According to the CDC, social distancing includes ‘remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance’ when possible. The City of Norwalk website has additional information direction for the community on measures that are being taken to limit the spread of coronavirus,” Adamowski wrote.
An updated schedule of City Hall changes, including department hours and services, will be released Friday, the press release said.
“Meetings that remain scheduled may not occur in person, but rather, may be conducted via teleconference,” the press release said. “Members of the public will be able to dial-in to participate. The City’s website, norwalkct.org, will post updated agendas and information in the coming days. The City of Norwalk strongly encourages members of the public to submit comments electronically for all upcoming meetings and public hearings.”
“Given the ever-changing nature of this pandemic, I remain in constant contact with my top staff, the Norwalk Health Department, and local and state officials,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “The schedule of City Hall is subject to change, and I will be updating the public routinely over the days and weeks ahead with new developments. I ask the public to avoid heavily populated areas and large gatherings. I strongly encourage local businesses to consider taking necessary actions with their employees and customers. We all must take appropriate measures and precautions to help stop community spread.”
“Members of the public are encouraged to sign-up for the City’s CodeRED Emergency Alert Notification System at norwalkct.org/codered. Mayor Rilling will provide updates on the City’s website, social media, and CodeRED,” the press release said. “Those who feel symptomatic should call their doctor for guidance and avoid showing up to an emergency room or doctor’s office. Residents can call 2-1-1 for additional guidance. The most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 will also be shared online at norwalkct.org/coronavirus.”
DMV, public transit
Gov. Ned Lamont has signed an executive order that:
- Prohibits all events in the state with over 250 people;
- Modifies the state law requiring schools to be in for 180 days;
- Clarifies visitor restrictions at all nursing and convalescent homes;
- Authorizes DMV to extend renewal deadlines to reduce crowds at DMV branches; and
- Relaxes attendance rules for police academy trainees.
According to the Governor’s press release, the DMV, acting on the recent emergency declarations signed by Lamont, will:
- Offer a 90-day extension period to Connecticut residents with eligible expiring credentials. These credentials include drivers’ licenses, learner’s permits and identity cards that expire between March 10, 2020 and June 8, 2020.
- Postpone all scheduled road test beginning March 16 until further notice.
- Residents who must renew their registrations should use online, phone or mail-in renewal methods, as registrations are not covered by this order.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation is responding to COVID19 with intensified cleaning activities.
“These actions, which began last week, are being conducted for all CTrail Hartford Line, CTrail Shore Line East, and New Haven Line (Metro-North) commuter rail services, as well as all CTtransit and local transit district bus services throughout the state,” the release said. “These measures include:
- “Nightly sanitizing of all trains and buses including an interior wipe down of high contact surfaces using enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols recommended by the CDC.
- “Station operators have increased cleaning of stations using CDC-recommended cleaning products and methods.
- “At our busiest train stations, Stamford, Bridgeport and New Haven, touch points such as door handles, escalator handrails and elevator buttons are being wiped down multiple times each day.
The release said:
“For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including guidance and other resources, all residents in the state are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.
“Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The information line is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance and TDD/TTY access for those with a hearing impairment. The hotline only intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider to seek treatment.”