Despite COVID surge, school officials not planning to reduce in-person learning

Despite COVID surge, school officials not planning to reduce in-person learning

MERIDEN — The city's daily rate of new COVID-19 occurrences has run beyond that of state cities twice its size, but school officials have no plans to reduce in-person learning despite some parents knowingly sending infected kids to school.

The education department is doing an exceptional job preventing widespread or secondary coronavirus transmission in its 12 schools. Instead, coronavirus spread occurs in schools through family transmission, Superintendent of Schools Mark Benigni told the Board of Education during a meeting on Tuesday night.

And those cases sometimes occur because some parents are refusing to keep students home despite themselves, their kids or other family members testing positive or having test results pending, said Stephanie Denya, a registered nurse and associate director of Meriden's Health and Human Services Department.

Denya criticized parents for their myopia.

"That is very stressful [to school staff and health workers] and it is very selfish. It puts so many people at risk," Denya told the board.

No one at the meeting said how many such instances occurred.

As of Tuesday, 102 students and at least six teachers or other staff at Maloney and Platt high schools were in quarantine, with seven Maloney students and less than six Platt students in isolation after testing positive. Less than six staff at the two high schools were also isolating after testing positive, according to the school system's COVID-19 dashboard.

Citing privacy concerns, the school system does not list cases per school if they are greater than zero or less than six.

According to the dashboard, seven schools have no teachers or staff in quarantine or isolation after testing positive and five Meriden schools also list zero students in quarantine or in isolation after testing positive — a superb record, Benigni said.

Maloney leads Meriden schools with seven infected students, less than six infected staff, less than six staff in quarantine due to close contact with an infection case, and 88 students in quarantine. 

Platt, Lincoln Middle, Washington Middle, Roger Sherman Elementary School and Casimir Pulaski Elementary School all have less than six staff with COVID-19. Platt, Lincoln, Washington, Hanover Elementary, Pulaski Elementary, John Barry Elementary and Benjamin Franklin Elementary have less than six students infected.

Lincoln, Washington, Franklin and Hanover schools have less than six staff in quarantine due to possible contact with someone infected, while John Barry has 10 staff in quarantine and Pulaski has exactly six staff in quarantine.

Besides Maloney's 88 students in quarantine, the school system has placed 65 Pulaski, 60 Barry, 24 Hanover, 17 Washington, 14 Platt, 13 Lincoln, and less than six students from Thomas Hooker Elementary School in quarantine after close contact with someone infected.

Remarkably, Venture Academy, Nathan Hale Elementary School and Israel Putnam Elementary School have no cases, isolations or quarantines of any kind. Overall, coronavirus case infection rates among students and staff are at less than half a percent, while the number of quarantined students and staff are at less than 4 percent of their total populations of students and staff. 

That success, officials said, sends a huge message that the school system's rigorous cleaning, social distancing, quarantining and other safety precautions are working quite well. 

nsambides@record-journal.com203-317-2279Twitter: @JrSambides

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