Shelton school COVID cases climb as city eclipses 1,000 overall

Shelton City Hall.

Shelton City Hall.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — Six school community members — including one in central office — tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the district-wide total to 84 since schools reopened in September.

Interim Superintendent Beth Smith informed parents and staff on Sunday about the latest positive tests, which included two at Shelton High, and one each at Shelton Intermediate, Booth Hill and Elizabeth Shelton schools. Of the 84 positive tests, Smith said 64 have been reported in November alone.

The recent increase in cases among school community members mirrors that of the city. Data released Sunday by the Naugatuck Valley Health District shows 41 cases were reported citywide from Nov. 24 to 29, bringing Shelton’s total to 1,024 positive cases since the pandemic hit in March.

NVHD data has the city standing at 139 virus-related deaths.

The spike in cases — and massive numbers of quarantined staffers — forced the school district to send all students to remote instruction on Nov. 11. Students will stay on distance learning until at least Jan. 1, she announced.

“As the number of positive cases continue, we believe we have begun to see spread of COVID-19 among staff members,” Smith said. “This has led to increased staff on isolation and in quarantine.”

Because there are staff members who work in close proximity with each other and tested positive, even when following mitigation strategies, Smith said “we believe there may have been spread in the schools.”

“It is a reminder,” Smith added, “how rapidly this virus can spread and a reminder to ensure proper hand hygiene, a minimum of 6 feet of social distancing and wearing a mask over the nose and mouth at all times.”

Regarding the latest positive tests, Smith said the last day the infected individuals were at Shelton High School was Nov. 5. The last day the infected people were at Shelton Intermediate School and central office was Nov. 25, Elizabeth Shelton School on Nov. 6, and Booth Hill School was Nov. 23.

Smith said no contact tracing was necessary in connection with the positive tests at Shelton High School, Elizabeth Shelton School and Booth Hill School.

“At this time, contact tracing for the Shelton Intermediate School and central office affected individuals has been completed,” Smith said.

Smith said some teachers are working from home while others are “coming in to use their classrooms.” She did not know the total number of teachers and staff who have been working in the buildings since the district went remote on Nov. 11.

According to Smith, central office has received “positive feedback” about distance learning.

“During virtual parent conferences, parents expressed thanks and appreciation to teachers for their hard work,” she said.

If staff members or students are identified as having close contact with the positive individual, Smith said they have received an email or phone call from the Shelton Public Schools Nursing Department to inform them to quarantine for 14 days from their last day of contact with the positive individual.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com