Milford schools

Brookfield, New Milford Schools Suspend ‘Screen and Stay’ Due to Rising 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 are ending participation in the state’s “Screen and Stay” protocol, which the governor launched in early November. The districts cited the increase in COVID cases. The state’s positivity rate was 6.48% on Thursday.

The program has been unavailable to New Milford students since Wednesday, while the break at Brookfield went into effect Thursday.

“Recently, the number of children who have been impacted 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 Wednesday in a letter to families.

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

“Going forward, until further notice, students deemed close contacts of a COVID-positive individual will revert to district quarantine protocol if not vaccinated,” he wrote. “We will consult with the Ministry of Health and re-evaluate COVID measures after the winter holidays in the hope of returning to the implementation of the Screen & Stay protocol.”

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

The region’s largest school district, Danbury, is maintaining the protocol for the time being.

“At this time, we are continuing with 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 Danbury area.”

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

“We will stay with Screen and Stay for now and reevaluate next week,” Fairfield’s new superintendent Pat Cosentino said.

The protocol allows students with limited exposure at school, on school transportation or outside under school supervision to remain in class if they do not have symptoms. Parents should monitor children for symptoms.

“It’s probably the best thing they (the state) have done all along,” Bethel Superintendent Christine Carver said. “We absolutely stand with her.”

School districts have strategies to prevent transmission in school, which has been negligible, she said. The new protocol has been acclaimed by families, who have had to deal less with the inconvenience of quarantines. she said.

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

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

Newtown will also retain Screen and Stay.

“The protocol is helpful, but it requires more work from 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

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

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

Contract research showed cases stemmed from Thanksgiving gatherings, she said. Carver estimated that 99% of cases came from unvaccinated members of the school community. Bethel Schools has 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” students and staff self-quarantine for 10 days when exposed, but still allows them to test on day five or later and return on day eight, DiCorpo said.

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

“The New Milford Department of Health strongly encourages people to get vaccinated or get vaccinated if they haven’t already, especially for those planning to attend social gatherings this holiday season. “said New Milford Health Director Lisa Morrissey in the school district’s letter.

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’s dashboard.

At Brookfield, three staff members and nine students have self-isolated 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 contacts.

Easton, Redding and Region 9 have 12 COVID-positive students and one staff member, according to district data updated Tuesday. One staff member and 57 students are quarantined due to exposure. Ten students are on “Screen and Stay”.

Districts also saw increased case counts due to Thanksgiving, McKinnon said.

“These confirmed positive cases were the result of family contact or outside activity,” 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 earlier in the fall, Rodrigue said. There have been four cases among staff and 16 cases among students so far in December, according to the district’s dashboard. There were 7 staff and 32 student cases in August and September, with 4 staff 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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