COVID-19 cases at Farmingville School worry Ridgefield officials

Farmingville School would have been closed for 14 due to COVID-19 cases there, but all Ridgefield schools are shuttered until January by the snowsotrm, four remote learning days, and then vacation.

Farmingville School would have been closed for 14 due to COVID-19 cases there, but all Ridgefield schools are shuttered until January by the snowsotrm, four remote learning days, and then vacation.

Macklin Reid / Hearst Connecticut Media

RIDGEFIELD — Two new COVID-19 cases, both in the Farmingville Elementary School community, have Ridgefield school officials concerned about possible in-school transmission.

“At this time, due to a number of new cases at FES, potential in school transmission, and several symptomatic staff members awaiting test results we would be closing the FES building for a period of 14 days to prevent potential spread of COVID-19 within the building,” Aaron Crook, the schools’ COVID-19 liaison, wrote in an email late Wednesday afternoon.

“In effect this is happening due to the coming snowstorm and upcoming winter break,” he said of the building closure. “FES will reopen as planned on Monday, Jan. 4.”

In addition to being closed Thursday for the snowstorm, Ridgefield schools are on systemwide remote learning Friday, Dec, 18, and then on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, Dec. 21-23, leading into the holiday break.

There are eight instances of positive tests for COVID-19 listed in the “recent cases and active quarantines” section of the COVID-19 data tracker on school system’s website. Four of the eight are from Farmingville. The other four are two from East Ridge Middle School and two from Ridgefield High School.

In announcing there would be system-wide remote learning for several days leading into vacation, Superintendent of Schools Susie Da Silva cited a hope to minimize the need for asking students to quarantine during the holidays.

“This has been a challenging year, and we know the holiday break is an important time for all families,” Da Silva said.

So far this year close to 1,200 students and staff from the Ridgefield schools have been asked to quarantine, with six of them later testing positive for COVID-19.

One of the two new Farmingville cases sent 15 students and 13 staff members into quarantine, while the other was determined not to require additional quarantining, according to the school system’s COVID-19 data tracker.

The first of two Farmingville announcements came shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16, through an email sent to the school community by Superintendent Da Silva, forwarding a communication from the COVID-19 liaison Aaron Crook.

“This individual was the FES building and potentially infectious to others on December 9, 10, 11, 14, 15 and 16,” Crook said.

The second Farmingville case was announced a little after 4 Wednesday afternoon.

“This individual was in the FES building while potentially infectious to others on Monday, Dec. 14,” Crook wrote.

“We cannot rule out in-school transmission for this case, as the individual was potentially exposed to another individual at FES who tested positive,” Crook wrote.

The eight active cases listed on the data tracker — four from Farmingville and two each from East Ridge and the high school — date back to Dec. 2.

There are also 56 incidents listed in the “historical cases and past quarantines” section of the COVID-19 data tracker. While the first one is from Aug. 17 — before kids went back in school — that other 55 go from early October to early December.

Updated as of Thursday, Dec. 17, just before 10 a.m. the schools’ data tracker said:

“RPS has had 67 known cases of COVID-19. Over time we have placed 1,176 students and staff in quarantine after potential exposures in school, on the bus, and at athletic events. Six of these 1,176 have tested positive. We do not know if in-school transmission occurred in these cases. We cannot rule it in or out.”

Crook said he’d conferred with town Health Director Ed Briggs, and the school system’s medical advisor, Dr. James Ahern, about the recent Farmingville cases.

“In the coming days if we learn of additional positive cases at FES or if any additional contact tracing is required we will alert the community at that time.”