COVID still rising, Ridgefield plans townwide Zoom Thursday

Testing for COVID-19 is offered during summer 2020 at the Ridgefield Recreation Center. Ridgefield plans a townwide Zoom on Thursday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Testing for COVID-19 is offered during summer 2020 at the Ridgefield Recreation Center. Ridgefield plans a townwide Zoom on Thursday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Bryan Haeffele / Hearst Connecticut Media

The COVID-19 toll is rising, with at least 39 deaths, and close to 500 cases in Ridgefield since the pandemic’s start, according to the state. The schools have sent more than 900 students and staff into quarantine as the result of possible exposures this fall. The high school has called off midterm exams.

And townspeople are being called to listen and learn.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi has invited Ridgefielders to hear experts discuss the town’s COVID-19 situation Thursday, Dec. 3, at a 7 p.m., in a Zoom webinar that will be available on the town’s website: www.ridgefieldct.org.

“All residents are invited to hear a town update that will reflect the status of Ridgefield as of Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.,” a release from Marconi’s office said. “Presentations will be made by Task Force members which include scientists, doctors, communications specialists as well as Town Health Director, Ed Briggs, School Superintendent Susie Da Silva and First Selectman Rudy Marconi.”

People may send in questions before or during the presentation by emailing them to pio@ridgefieldct.org. Gerri Lewis, the public information officer for the town’s COVID-19 Task Force, will forward them to the panelists.

People may register in advance for the webinar at:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rdmx8KktRf6sT7phQv8MBA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The Zoom meeting will also be on the Town website being streamed on the video page but will not be available on Comcast Channel 24. It will be made available on the town web site on Friday: www.ridgefieldct.org

In schools

On the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving weekend, eight new COVID-19 cases were reported in six different schools — Ridgefield High School, East Ridge Middle School, Scotts Ridge Middle School, and Branchville, Ridgebury and Scotland elementary schools.

Ridgefield schools have had 46 known cases of COVID-19 and over time placed 939 students and staff in quarantine after potential exposures in school, on the bus, and at athletic events.

Four of these 939 have tested positive, according to a message on the school system website’s Covid-19 data tracker, as updated the afternoon of Dec. 1.

“We do not know if in-school transmission occurred in these cases. We cannot rule it in or out.”

As of the Dec. 1 update, the schools COVID-19 data tracker listed 122 students and 19 staff as still in quarantine.

These included:

  47 students and 10 staff from a potential exposure at Veterans Park elementary school Nov, 16, 17 and 18;

  43 students and 9 staff from possible exposure Nov. 23 at East Ridge Middle School;

  32 students from possible exposures Dec. 1 at East Ridge Middle School (11 students) and Branchville Elementary School (21students).

As of Dec. 1 there were a total of 17 cases of positive tests by students or staff listed as having been reported within the active 14-day quarantine period. But for most of those cases school and health authorities determined contact tracing wasn’t necessary because the person wasn’t in school while infectious to others.

No exams

The cancellation of Ridgefield High School’s midterm exams was announced Tuesday.

“Due to the number of disruptions to our academic schedule, we will not administer midterm exams this year,” High School Principal Jake Greenwood wrote in a letter emailed to RHS families.

“Many different factors informed this decision made by the Leadership Team at RHS. While it is challenging to administer these types of summative assessments in a hybrid environment, we also know that these days at the end of the semester would be better used to regain some of our lost instructional time.”

The school’s academic leaders decided “high stakes exams are not in the best interests of our students in this environment,” Greenwood said.

“... our focus will remain on instruction and authentic (formative) assessment of student learning.”

No decision has been made as yet concerning final exams, he said.

RHS remains on hybrid learning — where two cohorts of students alternate in-class with remote learning, to keep down the numbers of students in the building — and a third “Cohort C” consists of students who have opted for full remote learning.

Discussion among RHS parents on social media suggest that many in-school classes have been quite small lately.

And Superintendent of Schools Susie Da Silva confirmed Tuesday that school officials had been discussing “a revised plan for the low enrollment at RHS.”

While Ridgefield’s two middle schools are on hybrid learning plans, the town’s six elementary schools are continuing on a relatively normal schedule of holding classes for all students five days a week.