Ridgefield Schools closed, many events canceled
The Ridgefield Public Schools are closed, classes suspended indefinitely, joining a mushrooming list around the town and region of institutions closed, events cancelled, activities suspended due to concerns about the spreading coronavirus and disease it causes, COVID-19.
“Ridgefield Public Schools will be closed effective immediately until further notice. Please visit their website at www.ridgefield.org,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said Thursday afternoon.
“Ridgefield continues to monitor and to follow our existing pandemic preparedness plan for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact on our town. As you all know, these are extraordinary circumstances and it will require our entire community to work together to keep our town healthy,” Marconi said.
“We urge you to partner with us and to follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), as well as Ridgefield’s Department of Health.”
The notice posted on the school system’s website Thursday was brief: “As a precautionary measure, Ridgefield Public Schools will be closed until further notice. Additional information will be forthcoming.”
The Ridgefield Library announced cancelation all events and programs through the end of March, although it remains open for daily operations.
“The library itself will remain open to the public to enable individuals to utilize our resources,” Library Director Brenda McKinley said in a letter to the community posted Wednesday and still up on the library’s website Thursday evening. “...If you are unable to visit the library we have online resources available for all ages 24/7 on our website: www.ridgefieldlibrary.org.”
The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce postponed its Inaugural Breakfast planned for Friday morning, March 13.
ACT of Connecticut canceled plans for its next play, Nickel Mines, in a letter Thrusday afternoon.
The Ridgefield Historical Society closed Wednesday, but will be responding to people’s inquiries through email.
Marconi addressed fellow citizens Thursday, updating a previous release: “Governor Lamont issued an executive order taking the following actions (www.ct.gov) :
“All events in the state with over 250 people are prohibited.
“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; (The DMV is ordering a 90-day extension on all license renewals
“Relaxes attendance rules for police academy trainees.
“Seniors and those who are medically compromised (including those with cardio-pulmonary, asthma, diabetes or are smokers) should remain extra vigilant,” Marconi said. “All persons 75 and older should consider sequestering themselves in order to avoid exposure. Carriers of the coronavirus (COVID-19) may not exhibit symptoms and the most vulnerable age group for serious illness is the senior population.
“Avoid large gatherings. For those smaller events that you do attend, be proactive and wipe down any space you plan to touch with alcohol based wipes. There are still unknowns about surface contamination so carry your own antiseptic wipes and take care of your space, as well as the space of your children. Be proactive.
“For all visits to your primary care provider, be sure to call ahead. Many providers are asking routine patients not to convene in waiting rooms. Check to see if your provider has changed the protocols.
“We urge you to partner with us and to follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), as well as Ridgefield’s Department of Health,” Marconi said..
“Locally we are conducting regular meetings that include Emergency Management, our Director of Health, the Superintendent of Schools, our police and fire services, the RVNA, the Clergy along with those who provide senior services or manage senior facilities. We are also in touch consistently with many town organizations and businesses. We are in daily contact with state and regional health and emergency management officials.
“All these efforts are for the singular purpose of protecting our residents. And while we are elbow bumping and practicing social distancing, please remember we are all in this together....
“My office in concert with the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Superintendent of Schools, the Ridgefield Health Department and all public safety agencies will continue to provide you with the most actionable information to keep you updated,” Marconi said. “Stay healthy.”
Before the decision to close the schools was reached Thursday, Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote had issued a statement outlining steps such as calling off or postponing field trips, after school events and sports contests.
School board chairwoman Margaret Stamatis had issued a statement saying: “The Board of Education supports the Superintendent's March 11 response to the COVID-19 situation. Under the guidance of the Connecticut State Board of Education, the Superintendent is coordinating with and following the recommendations of the local health department director regarding response. The safety and well-being of students, staff and the school community is at the center of all decision making.”
A number of organizations that have notified The Press they are closing up or canceling activities as a result of coronavirus concerns, and many others are making announcements on their own websites.
In postponing the March 13 breakfast, The Chamber’s said it hoped to reschedule the event.
“Our decision was made first and foremost with public safety in mind” said Executive Director Kim Bova, “We look forward to rescheduling this event for a future date and will update our members and supporters as new information becomes available.”
ACT of CT asked in its announcement if patrons would consider donating the cost of tickets they purchased to shows that are now canceled.
“As you can imagine, the closure of ‘Nickel Mines’ represents a major financial loss for ACT; production expenses are upfront and are then off set by ticket sales,” the theater group said. “As we have already spent the majority of the show’s budget, and there will be no ticket sales - you can imagine the ‘hit.’.
“ACT is a non-profit theater and we rely on ticket sales for one half of our annual operating budget. Therefore, we are asking patrons who have already purchased tickets to NICKEL MINES to consider donating the cost of your tickets to ACT (as opposed to asking for a refund). ACT will provide you with a letter to use for tax purposes. Of course, if you would like a refund, we certainly understand and will provide that to you.”
The Ridgefield Historical Society said it will be closed to the public through March 31 “as a precaution.”
The statement added, The Society's staff will be available during regular hours (Tuesday - Thursday from 1 to 5 pm) to answer inquiries by email (email@example.com).”