Milford schools

Brookfield and New Milford Schools Suspend ‘Screen and Stay’ Due to Rise in COVID Cases


Brookfield and New Milford are suspending a program that in some cases allows students who do not show symptoms of COVID-19 to stay in school, even if they have been exposed to the virus.

Both school districts cease participating in the state’s “Screen and Stay” protocol, which the governor launched in early November. Districts cited an increase in COVID cases. The state’s positivity rate was 6.48% on Thursday.

The program was no longer available to New Milford students as of Wednesday, while the break at Brookfield went into effect on Thursday.

“Recently, the number of children who have been affected by COVID-19 has increased in the community, and as a result, the number of children in quarantine has increased,” New Milford Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo said on Wednesday in a letter to families.

Brookfield students currently on the Screen and Stay protocol can stay, Superintendent John Barile said in a message to families.

“In the future, until further notice, students considered to be close contacts of an individual positive for COVID will revert to the district quarantine protocol if they are not vaccinated,” he wrote. “We will consult with the Department of Health and re-evaluate COVID measures after winter recess in hopes of returning to the implementation of the Screen & Stay protocol.”

Barile said the district halted the program on the recommendation of its health director “due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases” in the city and state.

The region’s largest school district, Danbury, is upholding the protocol for now.

“At this time, we are continuing our Screen & Stay protocol,” Superintendent Kevin Walston said in an email. “However, we will continue to work with our local health department to reassess this position as we monitor cases of Covid-19 in the community and area of ​​Danbury. “

Other school districts in the area plan to continue using the program.

“We will be sticking with Screen and Stay for now and re-evaluating next week,” said Fairfield’s new superintendent Pat Cosentino.

The protocol allows students with limited exposure at school, on school transport, or outside under school supervision to stay in class if they are not showing symptoms. Parents should watch children for symptoms.

“It’s probably the best thing they (the state) have done since this started,” said Bethel Superintendent Christine Carver. “We absolutely stick with it. “

School districts have strategies to prevent transmission at school, which has been negligible, she said. The new protocol was popular with families, who faced less of the inconvenience of quarantines. she said.

“They love it because it gets their kids going to school,” Carver said. “Every time you quarantine it disrupts education.”

About 30% of close contacts in Easton, Redding and Region 9 quality for Screen and Stay, Superintendent Jason McKinnon said. These districts also plan to continue the protocol.

Newtown will also retain Screen and Stay.

“The protocol is useful, but it takes more work on the part of nurses and administrators to work more closely with parents to understand the criteria,” Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said in an email.

Increase in COVID cases in schools

Cases of COVID have increased in recent days and weeks in schools, communities and the state.

“After Thanksgiving, we definitely saw a much bigger increase,” Carver said.

Research into the contracts showed the cases stemmed from Thanksgiving gatherings, she said. Carver estimated that 99% of cases were from unvaccinated members of the school community. Bethel schools have had 65 cases of COVID this school year.

New Milford has 24 active cases in schools, with 86 students in isolation or quarantine, according to the most recent data on the district’s website.

New Milford “strongly recommends” that students and staff self-quarantine for 10 days when exposed, but still allow them to test on day 5 or later and return on day 8, DiCorpo said.

Authorities continue to urge families to immunize their children and take precautions at holiday gatherings.

“The New Milford Department of Health is strongly encouraging people to get vaccinated or receive their booster shots if they haven’t already, especially for those planning to attend social gatherings this season vacation, ”said Lisa Morrissey, director of health for New Milford, in the letter from the school district.

Danbury has had 68 positive cases in schools since Thanksgiving, with 376 close contacts identified, 322 school members in quarantine and 12 on Screen and Stay, according to the district dashboard.

In Brookfield, three staff members and nine students were in isolation because they have COVID, according to the district’s dashboard, which was last updated last Friday. There were 28 students in quarantine due to close contact.

Easton, Redding and Region 9 have 12 students and one staff member who test positive for COVID, according to district data updated Tuesday. A staff member and 57 students are in quarantine due to an exposure. Ten students are on “Screen and Stay”.

Districts have also seen increased cases due to Thanksgiving, McKinnon said.

“These confirmed positive cases were the result of family contact or outside activities,” he wrote in a message to families this week. “The mitigation strategies used in schools continue to work. “

Ridgefield has had 40 cases since Thanksgiving and 119 cases this academic year. There are 87 students in quarantine.

Cases in Newtown schools are still lower than in early fall, Rodrigue said. There have been four cases among staff and 16 cases among students so far in December, according to the district dashboard. There were 7 staff cases and 32 student cases in August and September, with 4 staff cases and 27 student cases in October.

“Although we have seen a recent spike, we still have fewer cases and fewer direct contacts / quarantines than in September and October,” she said.

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