Health officials issue warning to New London schools after jump in COVID cases

New London

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Southeastern Connecticut health officials have issued a warning to more than half a dozen school districts, saying there’s been a dramatic increase in community COVID cases.

The Ledge Light Health District covers Groton, Ledyard, Lyme, East Lyme, New London, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Stonington, and Waterford.

Monday, the district sent a letter to the eight school systems, that cover those nine towns, asking them to keep the latest COVID data in mind as they meet in October to reassess the hybrid learning model and discuss any possible returns to fully in-person learning.

Groton Board of Education Chair, Kim Shepardson Watson, was one of the recipients of the letter. She said it stopped short of making any recommendations, but suggested hybrid learning, with its corresponding cohort classes, makes it easier to contact trace and contain the spread of the virus.

“Just to have the districts be mindful when they think about doing an all-in,” said Shepardson Watson.

She added that Groton will only begin discussing any changes to the current hybrid model next month, and will take any health district guidance in stride.

“In Groton, we would have two buildings that have a thousand kids in them; that’s the high school and our new middle school. To put a thousand kids all in, or two thousand kids all in, doesn’t seem, for me, reasonable. However, it’s a push-pull for what that means for our town, what does that mean for our parents and families who have to work.”

In Stonington, the superintendent said he plans to update the school board next week.

In New London, officials said the plan is to stay hybrid through next month, and that any discussion regarding next steps will take place with the health district’s advice in mind

In Waterford, the letter came just as officials met to reassess a return to full in-person classes.

“Our teachers and our students are doing the best they can in this situation,” said Shepardson Watson.

The Uncas Health District, in Norwich, is also seeing a spike in COVID cases.  

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