With over 200 students and Ridgefield schools staff having been asked to quarantine this year, middle and high school students will be learning at home for two weeks, following four positive tests for COVID-19 over the weekend and general uptick in cases throughout the region.

Elementary school students are being split into groups, with half attending class Monday and Tuesday, half attending class Thursday and Friday, and all learning at home on Wednesday so schools can be cleaned.

It’s a switch from a “low risk” to a “moderate risk” model for the school district’s operations, following a couple of weeks with numerous incidents of potential exposures, mostly as a result of people in various schools’ communities testing positive for COVID-19.

Superintendent of Schools Susie Da Silva announced the changes in an email to students’ families and staff members about 1:20 Monday afternoon, Oct. 26.

Da Silva explained that all students in the middle and high schools will have at least two weeks of remote learning — no students going into the school buildings — before a potential transition back to a hybrid model similar to what’s being used in the elementary schools.

“While the entire district has transitioned to the moderate-risk scenario, our middle and high schools will implement a temporary remote learning model for students for the next two weeks,” Da Silva said.

The earliest middle and high school students may return to in-person learning is Tuesday, Nov. 10.

“Our Director of Public Health has recommended that we reduce the density of the population inside these schools given the events of the last three days,” Da Silva wrote.

An exception is being made for special education students with “Individual Education Plans” (IEPs) who may attend elementary schools four days a week if their parents prefer.

“Elementary students with IEPs are offered the opportunity to attend school in person for the four days of the hybrid model,” Da Silva wrote.

Faculty and staff will be in schools Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with all working remotely on Wednesday during the cleaning.

“Parameters will be implemented to limit faculty and staff exposure and interaction with one another,” Da Silva wrote.

On Tuesday, following a weekend with four different cases coming to light at the two middle schools, Da Silva reviewed recent cases of positive tests among the school community that had resulted in 194 students and 29 staff being asked to quarantine as a result.

On Oct. 22, 43 students and seven staff were told to quarantine; On Oct. 20, 34 students and eight staff; On Oct. 19 and 20, 58 studennts and nine staff; On Oct. 13 at Ridgefield High School, 35 students and four staff; earlier that week, a high school sports team had 15 students exposed and sent into quarantine; and an Oct. 17 case sent nine students and one staff member into quarantine.

Da Silva wrote that the decision has been made collaboratively with the Ridgefield Director of Public Health, Ed Briggs, and our District Medical Advisor, Dr. James Ahern.

There were then three more cases — all at either East Ridge and Scotts Ridge Middle School schools — announced on Sunday, with the number of people being told to quarantine to be announced.