The COVID-19 toll is rising, with at least 39 deaths, and close to 500 cases in Ridgefield since the pandemic\u2019s 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\u2019s COVID-19 situation Thursday, Dec. 3, at a 7 p.m., in a Zoom webinar that will be available on the town\u2019s website: www.ridgefieldct.org. \u201cAll residents are invited to hear a town update that will reflect the status of Ridgefield as of Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.,\u201d a release from Marconi\u2019s office said. \u201cPresentations 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.\u201d People may send in questions before or during the presentation by emailing them to email@example.com. Gerri Lewis, the public information officer for the town\u2019s 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 \u2014 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\u2019s Covid-19 data tracker, as updated the afternoon of Dec. 1. \u201cWe do not know if in-school transmission occurred in these cases. We cannot rule it in or out.\u201d As of the Dec. 1 update, the schools COVID-19 data tracker listed 122 students and 19 staff as still in quarantine. These included: \u00a0 47 students and 10 staff from a potential exposure at Veterans Park elementary school Nov, 16, 17 and 18; \u00a0 43 students and 9 staff from possible exposure Nov. 23 at East Ridge Middle School; \u00a0 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\u2019t necessary because the person wasn\u2019t in school while infectious to others. No exams The cancellation of Ridgefield High School\u2019s midterm exams was announced Tuesday. \u201cDue to the number of disruptions to our academic schedule, we will not administer midterm exams this year,\u201d High School Principal Jake Greenwood wrote in a letter emailed to RHS families. \u201cMany 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.\u201d The school\u2019s academic leaders decided \u201chigh stakes exams are not in the best interests of our students in this environment,\u201d Greenwood said. \u201c... our focus will remain on instruction and authentic (formative) assessment of student learning.\u201d No decision has been made as yet concerning final exams, he said. RHS remains on hybrid learning \u2014 where two cohorts of students alternate in-class with remote learning, to keep down the numbers of students in the building \u2014 and a third \u201cCohort C\u201d 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 \u201ca revised plan for the low enrollment at RHS.\u201d While Ridgefield\u2019s two middle schools are on hybrid learning plans, the town\u2019s six elementary schools are continuing on a relatively normal schedule of holding classes for all students five days a week.