EDITORIAL: Schools managing to avoid the surge in COVID-19 cases

EDITORIAL: Schools managing to avoid the surge in COVID-19 cases

By now we should all be so familiar with COVID-19 that mentioning the standard precautions should not be necessary: wear a mask, keep a 6-foot social distance, wash your hands. But an upswing in cases, nationally and locally, indicates that messaging needs to be reinforced and adhered to. It’s understandable that people have grown weary of the lifestyle changes brought on by the necessity of precautions, but this is not the time to relax, even as there’s encouraging news about the potential for a vaccine.

One area worth highlighting is the apparent success of schools, which have been considered sources of worry when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus. Fewer than one percent of students in Meriden Public Schools, for example, have been identified as testing positive for COVID-19. Compare that to Meriden as a whole, which is on track to record its highest monthly case totals since May. As the Record-Journal recently reported, the city has had 358 cases since Nov. 3. In May, there were 414 cases the entire month.

Data from the state Department of Public Health shows “an ample surge of COVID-19 cases” in the city. Surrounding municipalities have also experienced rate surges.

Contact tracing, as Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati has noted, helps officials understand where the surge is coming from, and the culprit appears to be social gatherings. “There’s been a lot of contact and a lot of spread,” he said. “It’s leading undoubtedly to more cases.”

Schools were considered sources of outbreak concerns, but contact tracing has shown it not to have turned out that way. “Schools may be one of the safest places for our kids, because they are in cohorts, in their classroom, with limited exposure to others outside of that classroom,” Scarpati noted.

“We are not seeing sustained person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in schools or outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools, despite increasing levels of COVID-19 in the community,” said Wallingford School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo in his weekly update.

The reminder to stay vigilant remains important, but school systems also deserve credit for the effort so far. Continuing the education of young people has been one of the major challenges of the pandemic, and while challenges remain schools have been among the bright spots of this struggle to carry on in the midst of a health crisis.

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