NAUGATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) — In-person learning resumed at Naugatuck High School on Monday after a student tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
All Naugatuck High School students moved to remote learning temporarily after a senior tested positive for COVID-19.
The district found out Wednesday morning that the student had tested positive. He was in class just the day before — the second week of school for the school system.
Superintendent Christopher Montini said school was dismissed early on Wednesday so the school could be deep cleaned and staff could work on contact tracing with the health department.
Three other students are quarantining after riding to school in the same car as the sick student. He is believed to have gotten the virus from a family member.
On Monday, school officials said a second student had tested positive that was at the school on Wednesday. After contact tracing, officials said there is no risk or exposure, adding that classes will continue in-person.
“I feel bad for anyone who has to go through this right now. I can’t say how thankful I am my son is out,” said Traci Woodfield, Naugatuck.
School officials then collaborated with the Naugatuck Valley Health District to complete the contract tracing investigation and determined that in-person learning was safe to resume, following the Monday-Wednesday / Tuesday-Thursday schedule.
“It’s easier if I have teachers teaching me for certain subjects, like math. It’s hard for me to learn online,” said Asra Gadoush, Senior, Naugatuck High School.
Parents were understandably upset after the positive case.
“Who else has contracted it? We don’t know,” said a mom picking up her kids’ remote learning lunches form the high school. “What are you going to do? You try as hard as you can. You take all the precautions that you can, and still…”
“We’re working to scour the student’s schedule and all of his contacts,” said Montini.
He credits intensive planning for the district’s ability to react quickly.
“Because we’re in the hybrid model, we have such small class sizes and students are physically distanced,” he said.
Parents and teachers in the area said they understand this “new normal” will come with ups and downs.
“They have to do whatever they have to do to keep everyone safe and relaxed,” said Woodfield.
“I trust the guys on the Board of Ed. and the administrators to do what’s right,” said Chris Lacilla.
“Safety is our first priority, period,” said Montini.
The full release from the school can be read below:
We are writing to inform you that today, September 9, 2020 we learned that an individual who was last physically present at Naugatuck High School on September 8, 2020 tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, all students at Naugatuck High School will dismiss today at 11:00 a.m., including those that typically stay longer. The individual who tested positive is a 12th grade student, who does not ride the bus, and is assigned to Group B-in-person learning on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All classrooms and physical spaces were cleaned and sanitized after dismissal yesterday and between all classes as well today. Based on guidance from the Connecticut State Department of Education, Department of Public Health, and the CDC we are immediately taking the following steps:
1. Effective immediately, Naugatuck High School is closed. Until further notice, all Naugatuck High School students will participate in distance learning from home.
2. Our nursing supervisor, the Naugatuck Valley Health Department, and our medical advisor were notified. Contact tracing is underway.
3. The entire school will be deep cleaned and sanitized.
4. We will work with the Naugatuck Valley Health Department to assess the situation and determine Naugatuck High School’s next steps which will include when staff and students may return to the school building. We estimate that this will take between 2 and 5 days.
5. We will communicate with the Naugatuck High School community once the next steps have been determined.
6. Beginning tomorrow, lunch and breakfast will be available for pick-up during the closure at Naugatuck High School between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
7. During the closure, all before and after school activities at Naugatuck High School are postponed.
Within the next few days, Principal Harris will communicate important updates including Naugatuck High School’s next steps which will include when staff and students may return to the school building.
When high school students and staff returned, grief counselors were also available to them.
Tim Walsh, a social studies teacher at the school, passed away after a long battle with cancer. He’s being remembered as a beloved colleague, teacher, friend, and family member who inspired the best in people.
Those resources were on hand for everyone to process this great loss.