Increase in COVID cases prompts Winchester schools to go remote ahead of holiday break | Connecticut News


WINCHESTER, CT (WFSB) – In light of increasing COVID-19 numbers in the district, Winchester Public Schools transitioned to remote learning today and tomorrow.

“Students will receive full credit for attendance at school as long as they participate in distance learning,” Superintendent Melony Brady-Shanley wrote. “Be advised that we currently have a number of staff members and students who are COVID-19 positive and a large number of students who are now identified as a direct contact. Additionally, we have identified a few students who have become COVID-19 positive through school/activity contact.”

There’s still a couple days left before Winchester Public schools gets their holiday break, but at their three schools Wednesday, the halls are pretty empty, with students learning remotely at home.

The superintendent said students were given Chromebooks earlier in the year.

Superintendent Brady-Shanley says the school district monitors COVID-19 data daily.

“We’ve noticed, in the past week and a half specifically, we had abnormal increase in cases that we had not seen,” Superintendent Brady-Shanley explained.

Right now, 17.5 percent of the 560 students are impacted by the virus.

That includes students quarantining, direct contacts, and students in Screen and Stay.

“We’ve had cases arise from community spread. We’ve had cases arise from after school activities, such as athletics, recreation activities, after school programming, and then we have had some cases of in-school spread that we have been able to identify,” continued Brady-Shanley.

The decision to go remote came after consulting with the Torrington Area Health District and state Department of Education.

The director at the Torrington Area Health District says the twenty cities, towns, and boroughs in its jurisdiction fall in line with the state, in that there is an uptick in COVID-19 in all of their communities.

In the Summer, it became state law that school districts wouldn’t be able to do remote learning.

However, in cases dealing with COVID-19, it’s allowed.

It can be used for students who have to be in isolation or have to quarantine when there’s outbreaks in a specific classroom, school, or in the school district, and also for students who have live-in family members who have an unusual vulnerability to the virus.

“As you know, I have held strong to in-person learning, but I have promised our community that my number one priority is always student and staff safety,” Brady-Shanley said. “My hope is that with the implementation of distance learning, we will be able to break this cycle of COVID spread.”

The district has been fully in-person since July 2020, but she says this move was solely for safety.

“This decision, for me, did not come lightly. It comes with a heavy heart that I had to make this decision, but, ultimately, my job as a superintendent is to protect our students and our staff,” Brady-Shanley added.

All families in the school district were provided free meals for Wednesday and Thursday.

Brady-Shanley advised families to limit their contact with other people over the holiday break.

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