SHELTON — Shelton schools will be closed Friday and remain that way until further notice, according to interim Superintendent Beth Smith.

Smith, in a statement released on the school district’s website, said the decision was made “for the safety of our students, staff and community.” No person in Shelton has tested positive for COVID-19, but Smith said the decision to close schools was made “out of an abundance of caution.”

During a conference call March 12, Smith said state Department of Education officials again urged schools to “close outright and not have a distance learning piece; rather, offer supplemental learning.

“The reason for not recommending distance learning includes the ability to meet all federal and state statutory requirements, equity and access, collective bargaining agreements, equity for employees, levels of student engagement, needs of students with exceptionalities, quality learning, and others,” said Smith. “Our plan follows the state department's recommendation.”

Administrators will report on a regular schedule, said Smith, and the Office of Teaching and Learning’s supplemental learning plan will be posted on the district website. Staff had planned to begin preparations for off-site learning on Monday, March 16, but Smith said the time had come to move on closure.

“Unfortunately the closure occurred prior to Monday,” said Smith, “however, I am confident that the posted plan, if followed at home, will ensure there is not a large gap in learning while students are at home and will provide them with meaningful activities to decrease their downtime.”

Smith said families that do not have access to a computer — and did not receive a device Thursday from their school and would like a device — should call the school’s HelpDesk at 203-924-6530 option 1. This option is available Friday, March 13.

“Today only, students may report to your school during regular business hours to retrieve any belongings you may need during the shutdown,” said Smith. “This includes belongings from lockers, including food, and classrooms; however, it does not include medication, which will continue to remain in a locked location during this time.”

Smith said security staff and custodians will open all lockers starting Monday to ensure that all food products are removed from lockers. All school events and activities, including athletics, drama club rehearsals and banquets are canceled. There are to be no practices or rehearsals off campus. Virtual meetings are permitted.

“This is a time for us to practice social distancing,” said Smith.

Further information about supplemental learning will be available on the Shelton public schools website. Smith also asked parents to check the district website and Facebook page frequently for updates.

“Please continue to take care of yourself and your family during this crisis,” Smith urged.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com