A comfortable return: after spring break, 85% of Shelton students back in classroom

Exterior view of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Exterior view of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Some 15 percent of city students remain distance learners, and that number continues to drop, according to Superintendent Ken Saranich.

Saranich, in an update to the Board of Education this week, said that as of April 28, 675 of the 4,399 students in the district are distance learners. The number has dropped 6 percent since March 22, he said.

Individual schools fall on both sides of the line, data show, with some with a higher percentage of students on distance learning at some schools and fewer at others.

“The number is decreasing, and parents have another few days to decide if they want to return,” Saranich said.

Students returned to in-class instruction five days a week on April 19. The move came after district staffers — including café workers and bus drivers — had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March.

Two schools saw an increase in distance learners over the past month. Booth Hill School has 29 distance learners — 9.63 percent of its 301 students — a 1.33 percent increase. Mohegan School has 58 distance learners — 14.65 percent of its students — for a 0.65 percent increase.

Overall, Shelton High has 288 distance learners out of 1,283 students, or 22.45 percent; Shelton intermediate has 108 out of 731, or 14.77 percent; Perry Hill has 93 out of 718, or 12.95 percent; Sunnyside has 26 out of 246, or 10.57 percent; Long Hill has 37 out of 322, or 11.49 percent; and Elizabeth Shelton has 36 out of 402, or 8.96 percent.

“It is exciting to see everyone returning to school,” Saranich said, adding that students and staff have both excelled at their school work but are also following mitigation strategies to keep the schools safe.

The superintendent said there was an uptick on positive COVID-19 cases after the return from April break, which ran from April 12 to 16.

He said that since April 16, 75 percent of the positive cases were students outside of the school as distance learners. Of the remaining 25 percent, Saranich said less than 1 percent (0.04 percent) apparently contracted the virus from an in-school contact. The remaining cases were contracted outside the school buildings.

“Our schools are safe,” Saranich said.

Saranich said that the governor’s executive order mandating a distance learning option will soon expire so the district can open as normal beginning in September. He said he will be working with central office on specific details of the schools’ reopening for the next school year.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com