NORWALK, Conn. — COVID-19 cases continue to increase at Norwalk Public Schools but the district is staying the course, even as Mayor Harry Rilling has stepped back City activities.
NPS is maintaining its current schedule, with middle and high schools in hybrid learning and in-person instruction available for elementary students, Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella said Thursday in a letter to parents. Families can still choose to have their attend school through full remote learning, and fall athletics, programs and other activities “can continue for schools that are not closed for in-person learning. The restriction on spectators and visitors will remain in place.”
Estrella warned that families should be ready to deal with individual schools closing for two weeks, “at any time,” should circumstances warrant.
This news comes simultaneously with Rilling moving Norwalk back to Phase 2, as of noon Sunday. On Monday, Rilling told the Democratic Town Committee that the schools might be forced to go all remote, but, again, that’s not happening now.
NPS “heard concerns from parents and staff member who are worried about physical health, social and emotional well-being, and the challenges of childcare for working parents,” Estrella wrote. “With the effective health and safety protocols that the district has in place since the start of school, we know that schools can be one of the best places for children to be, aside from at home.”
Sudden school closures are inspired by rising case levels, extensive quarantines and related staffing challenges, Estrella wrote.
“One of the difficulties we have faced in recent weeks has involved cases that have been confirmed late in the day, or over the weekend,” she wrote. “Time is needed to assess the extent of the situation, reach all who need to be contacted, confirm availability of staff or substitutes, and increase sanitization measures where needed.”
This prompts administrators to “place that school on full remote learning for the following day. A school will be placed on remote learning for Monday if a positive case is confirmed on a weekend,” Estrella wrote. “Taking these steps will help protect students and staff by making sure we can thoroughly conduct all our health and safety protocols.”
She continued, “By taking these extra precautions now, we hope to limit the potential that the whole district might need to return to full at-home learning for an extended period, like last spring. We will monitor patterns and trends on a biweekly basis.”
The children’s health and safety is the first priority, she said, urging, “Remind your friends and family to wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance! Working together, we can keep our children and community safe.”