COVID puts Ridgefield middle schools on remote learning

RIDGEFIELD — Middle schools will be in remote learning Monday after four positive tests for COVID-19 split between the town’s two middle schools were announced this weekend.

A positive test of a person in the Scotts Ridge Middle School community was announced Sunday, followed later by announcement of the week’s second positive test at East Ridge Middle School. The first was announced Saturday.

Later Sunday, word came of a fourth positive test, and the switch to remote learning for Monday. Superintendent of Schools Susia DaSilva announced the decision in an email around 7:45 p.m. Sunday

“The reason for this decision is to allow us to contact trace this last (fourth) case, as well as to ensure that we have had the opportunity to confer with the local Department of Health regarding trends within the Ridgefield community,” Da Silva said.

“We do not yet have information to believe that these cases are connected to one another, but believe we need the time tomorrow to assess the situation further.”

Both middle school buildings will be closed Monday. Students should log into Google Meet and participate in their typical class schedules.

A decision on in-person classes Tuesday will be announced Monday.

Both middle schools are being “deep cleaned,” Da Silva said.

The fourth person to test positive was last in SRMS on Thursday, Oct. 22.

“We will be performing contact tracing for this exposure tomorrow morning,” Da Silva wrote Sunday, “and will let you know when it is complete. Until then, please exercise extra caution in your interactions with others.”

The first case at Scotts Ridge, announced earlier Sunday, was a person said to be “potentially infectious” and in the building on Monday, Oct. 19. and Tuesday, Oct, 20, according to Aaron Crook, the school system’s COVID-19 health and safety compliance liaison coordinator of nursing services. Da Silva said students and teachers who were in contact with that person will be required to quarantine until Monday, Nov. 2, and would be eligible to return to school Tuesday, Nov. 3. Those involved would be notified by phone, she said.

The announcement concerning the weekend’s second East Ridge Middle School case said that person had not been in school Thursday or Friday, Oct. 22 or 23, and contact tracing appeared not to be necessary.

Eight teachers and 34 students from East Ridge are quarantined after the positive test announced Saturday.

With Saturday’s announcement, by Hearst Connecticut Media’s tally, the number of people who have been asked to quarantine in the last few weeks as a result of potential exposures through the Ridgefiled Public Schools was 108 — with 95 of them students and 13 of them staff members.

The total number of students and staff affected will be announced later, Da Silva added.

Previous cases

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, Da Silva sent Ridgefield High School students’ families an email, forwarding a communication from Crook about an individual from the RHS school community who had tested positive for COVID-19, and had participated in the PSAT testing in the high school building on Saturday, Oct. 17. School officials determined that nine students and one teacher would be required to quarantine due to the exposure.

There had been an early dismissal Friday, Oct. 16, because a member of the RHS community had tested positive for COVID-19.

That same day, school officials announced they’d been notified by another school district of a potential exposure of members of the RHS girls soccer team at an away game earlier in the week. The girls had recently played in Norwalk — a COVID-19 “red zone,” according to the state — with a game at Brien McMahon in Norwalk on Oct. 13, according to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference website.

The girls soccer team had then hosted Staples of Westport on Oct. 15, the day before school officials learned of the potential exposure from the previous away game.

The first COVID incident during this school year was announced Oct. 5. School officials said then that working with health authorities they had determined the person who’d tested positive had not been in school when contagious, so building closures and contact tracing were not deemed necessary.

They hadn’t initially said what school was involved, but announced the next day that that it was East Ridge Middle School.

In August, shortly before the school year started, school officials announced that a person had tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting the Ridgefield High School building on Aug. 10 — before students were in the building.