Schools stay low risk; Ridgefield plans COVID-19 updates
RIDGEFIELD — Local schools will stay with their return to a “low-risk” model for COVID-19, and the town plans to make weekly public information releases on the situation.
Both announcements came following the state’s reclassification of Ridgefield as “orange” on its COVID-19 data tracker map, meaning the town had increased to a rate of between 10 and 14 cases per 100,000 population.
Superintendent of Schools Susie Da Silva announced in an email late Friday afternoon that the school system would not to go from “low risk” back to the “moderate risk” scenario — which governed the schools operation for the last week of October.
She cited advice form the state.
“This week, Gov. Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Public Health issued new guidance that school districts remain open despite higher levels of COVID-19 in the community because transmission within Connecticut school buildings is extremely low,” Da Silva said.
“We do not have evidence that the COVID-19 cases within RPS (Ridgefield public schools) to date are from in-school transmission,” she said. “We believe they came from outside of school. If this changes, we will inform the RPS community and adjust accordingly.
“This afternoon, my team and I met with Ridgefield Health Department Director, Ed Briggs and RPS Medical Advisor, James Ahern. We reviewed updated COVID-19 numbers for Fairfield County and Ridgefield and decided to continue our current learning model:
Elementary schools fully in person;
RHS current hybrid model;
First Selectman Rudy Marconi announced his plan to provide the public with weekly updates on the COVID-19 situation after the state had moved Ridgefield from the “yellow” status (5 to 9 cases per 100,000 population) to “orange” (10 to 14 cases per 100,000 people).
“Ridgefield is at 11.4 (per 100,000 people), that puts us in the ‘orange’ category,” Marconi said.
“If you looked at Connecticut, it’s much higher, as well as the Fairfield County towns,” he said.
“What drives that is when you get Danbury and Norwalk with extremely high numbers — they’re going to push that up there for Fairfield County.
“What I think is important for the people to know is that commencing on Tuesday, Nov. 10, the town will begin issuing weekly reports that will contain all of this information,” Marconi said.
This would take the form of a roughly one-page news release issued on Tuesday, and available on the town’s website, as well as through The Ridgefield Press.
“We’re going to get the most current data, and load it into our graphs so people can see where we’re heading, and that will be relative to the yellow, orange and red status,” Marconi said. “And, again, we are currently in the orange.”
The town information releases will be on Tuesday, he said, because the state’s practice is to release information gathered the previous week late Monday afternoons.
“They don’t enter it over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday,” he said, “it’s usually done sometime around 4 p.m. Monday.”
The information will be easily available, Marconi said.
“You will be able to to go to Town of Ridgefield website and on our front page there’s a red bar that says ‘Important COVID-19 Updates, read more.’ You will click on that, and that will bring you to a wealth of information,” Marconi said.
“You’re going to have to click the links to all of this information and it may take a little while because of the amount of data involved, but be patient.”
The first entry is expected Tuesday.
The superintendent’s email to school families included a philosophical introduction.
“It has been a busy week in our schools,” Da Silva said. “We look forward to welcoming our middle school students back on Nov. 10.
“I would like to remind everyone that we all have the ability to influence the health and safety of our community. In order to keep all of our students in school as long as possible, we need to work together.
“Please be as vigilant as possible with the mitigating measures: masks, handwashing and social distancing,” Da Silva said.
“I would like to express my gratitude to our RPS faculty and staff. They have been incredibly flexible and resilient. Thank you.”
Da Silva said the schools plan to recognize Veterans Day.
“No school on Nov. 11 to honor Veterans Day,” Da Silva said. “On this day, and everyday, we are grateful to those that serve now, and those that served then. “Your bravery and heart, as well as sacrifice for our freedom will not go unnoticed.”