2019-2020 covid-19 Updates

Listed below are all of the Superintendent updates related to COVID-19 during the 2019-2020 school year.


June 10, 2020

Over the last month, our district has been carefully planning for a safe and successful reopening in the fall. Our School Re-Entry Advisory Council (SRAC) includes representatives from the Board of Education, Administration, Teachers Union, Medical Field, and the Watertown Police Department. The SRAC is focused on developing a comprehensive plan for reopening Watertown schools in the fall that prioritizes the health and well-being of students and staff, provides solutions to the logistical challenges associated with school operations, and focuses on instructional delivery. The SRAC members are divided into three working groups: Health and Well-Being, Operations and Logistics, and Instructional Delivery. Each working group has additional representatives from across our community who have been identified as subject matter experts whose experience would benefit the working group as they plan.

We know that our eventual re-entry will bring with it more unprecedented changes in the way we operate and our readiness will depend on a variety of elements including state and federal regulations and guidelines. In addition to those elements, your input is critical to the development of our plan and we have developed several ways to engage our families.

First, I’d like to invite you to complete a brief survey regarding reopening in the fall. The purpose of the survey is to provide a space for our families to express their concerns about reopening so that we can work to address those issues as we are planning. In order to have a clear picture of the needs of our families, I am requesting that you submit a different response for every child in your family.

In addition to the survey, I’d like to invite you to attend two Special Board Meetings on June 29 and July 28 at 7:00 pm. During these meetings, I will provide detailed information regarding our planning, review the survey results, discuss the proposed plans, and answer questions/comments from the public. This presentation will also detail progress and scenarios toward reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. This presentation, and subsequent reopening plans, will regularly be posted on the district website, and remain fluid during the summer as much will continue to change during these times. I will share information on how to access the meetings as we get closer to the date and will make sure that the information covered is available to all who are unable to attend.

You have an essential voice in this reopening work. These are community schools for our children and all feedback is important as we develop plans. I thank you in advance for sharing your input and for your support of our students, staff and our entire community. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or send a message to questions@watertownps.org.

May 5, 2020

In a press conference with the Commissioner of Education, Governor Lamont announced that schools will remain closed and continue distance learning until the end of the school year. He also explained that additional guidance regarding summer school will be shared with school districts later this month. In anticipation of the announcement to close schools, our district leaders have been focused on strengthening our distance learning program and ending the year strong; finding ways to virtually celebrate the accomplishments of our students with a focus on the Class of 2020; and planning for summer school and our eventual re-entry in the fall.

We know that careful planning will be crucial to a safe and successful re-entry. To that end, we have created a School Re-Entry Advisory Council (SRAC) with representatives from the Board of Education, Administration, Teachers Union, Medical Field, and the Watertown Police Department. As we prepare for the future, the SRAC will both plan for and determine our ability to re-open in the fall, with a primary focus on the health and safety of our staff and students.

Although I expected this announcement and support the decision to keep our community safe, I am disappointed that we will not have an opportunity to reconnect with our students in person. The community’s support of our school district has been invaluable to us during these extraordinary times. Over the next couple of weeks, you can expect additional information from your school regarding picking up materials left in the building and any end of the year plans. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, or ideas. Thank you for your patience, care, and flexibility as we navigate these days together.

April 26, 2020

I hope that this letter finds you healthy and safe. I would like to begin by thanking you for your support, patience and flexibility as we navigate Distance Learning as a district for the first time and under unprecedented conditions. This has been a very big ask for students, families and teachers alike, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished so far. We started with supplemental learning and moved to a Distance Learning Model in a month, which truly is unbelievable! This shift is not just about using digital learning tools but also requires teachers to think differently about curriculum, instruction and assessments. Our ultimate goal is to keep students learning and engaged, so I am writing to provide an update on what is to come with Distance Learning.

At this point, the main model we have been using is asynchronous learning, meaning that teachers pre-record or assemble tutorials and assignments, and students are able to access these materials at any time. Teachers and students mostly correspond digitally through Google, email or an application such as Remind or Dojo. This model will continue as our primary vehicle for delivering instruction. To date, we have also dabbled with some synchronous opportunities, such as teachers offering optional virtual open office hours, group chats, telephone calls, etc. Going forward, we are expanding these types of opportunities.

Over the next few weeks, staff may choose to utilize some live audio and video instruction in more formally planned ways to provide students with high quality instructional and supportive services, mostly in small groups and with students experiencing the most difficulty to start. Whole group offerings will primarily remain more informal, e.g. virtual office hours, live chats, etc. Starting to layer in some live offerings for students will provide staff and students an opportunity to remain connected and engaged and will provide students more authentic and supportive experiences during this extended school closure. Please note that this is a new tool, so your patience is greatly appreciated as our staff unravel the capabilities and limits of this technology.

Safety is paramount to Watertown Public Schools, including in our virtual world. Therefore we have awaited state guidelines regarding confidentiality and privacy prior to pressing onward with this component of Distance Learning. The Connecticut State Department of Education released these recommendations shortly before April Break; and district administrators utilized these recommendations, along with existing district policies and many thoughtful conversations with colleagues in the area to develop clear guidelines. As we incorporate more live video, it is essential that all participants review the Live Instruction Guidelines so we can use this valuable approach safely and effectively.

As always, thank you in advance for your support, patience and flexibility. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, ideas or concerns.

April 6, 2020

Thank you so much for a great first week of distance learning. I am grateful for our teachers and their focus on maintaining our students’ academic growth, and also finding virtual ways to connect and support their social and emotional growth. I am also grateful for our parents who are working hard to make distance learning a success. As a fellow parent, I recognize how challenging it is to balance family while also supporting your children as they are learning from home. Distance learning will continue tomorrow through Thursday. Friday, April 10th begins our April vacation and distance learning will resume on Monday, April 20th.

New Video Series

This weekend, I launched a video series designed to share practical tips for parents as we are navigating our new normal. The six video series is called The Superintendent’s Guide to Guilt-Free Parenting During COVID-19, and includes an introduction and five additional videos that dig a bit deeper into each topic. The five short videos use Watertown CARES as its framework:

My hope is that you will find these videos helpful as you continue working with your child at home.

Grab and Go Lunch

The Grab and Go Lunch Program will continue this week. This week, staff will distribute lunches at Watertown High School on Monday and Wednesday from 11-1pm (breakfast will not be served). Our cafeteria staff and volunteers continue to follow guidance from local health officials and will be taking additional safety precautions. Staff and volunteers will wear protective masks (not N95 masks reserved for medical personnel and first responders) and we will limit the number of people working at any given time. As we near the estimated peak of COVID-19 in our state, it is imperative that we are especially cautious. Please be sure to follow directions from school personnel during the pickup period and maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and others. Meals will not be served during April break.

March 26, 2020

We are just a couple of days away from launching distance learning for our students. Earlier this week, teachers participated in virtual professional learning aimed at providing them with the resources they need to get started. Making the shift from face-to-face learning to distance learning is a huge feat, and I am proud of our teachers’ willingness to try new ideas and push themselves professionally. I’ve encouraged teachers to experiment and try new digital strategies and I’m looking forward to hearing about their innovative approaches to distance learning over the next several weeks.

As of yesterday, we have distributed 525 Chromebooks to students to use for distance learning. If your child needs to borrow a Chromebook, Monday from 11-1 will be your final opportunity to pick one up. If you’d like to pick up a Chromebook on Monday, please click HERE to fill out the Chromebook Request Form. This form must be filled out in order to pick up on Monday.

Distance learning officially begins on Monday, March 30th and will continue until we are given the green light to return to face-to-face learning. Yesterday, I emailed detailed information about distance learning that is specifically geared to parents. This information can also be accessed on our district site by clicking HERE. Although our district leaders, principals, teachers and staff have worked hard to make sure that we are all set to engage with our students on Monday, we know that there will be glitches along the way. Our team will be working hard to address any challenges that arise as quickly as possible and, while we may not be perfect on day one, we are committed to keeping students at the heart of all that we do and making improvements along the way. If you have questions or concerns about distance learning or questions related to the COVID-19 school closure, please send a message to questions@watertownps.org.

As you know, the number of confirmed cases of people with COVID-19 across our state continues to grow and the death toll increases with each passing day. We know that these are very stressful and uncertain times for all of our families; especially those who are trying to adjust to unusual working conditions, supporting family members who are ill or facing tough times financially. Children can see and feel our stress and may have fears and concerns of their own. For more information about managing coronavirus-related stress and anxiety, check out these tips from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

March 18, 2020

Good afternoon Watertown Families,

Today, our staff distributed 1,128 meals to 188 students and loaned 120 Chromebooks to families who need a device to support student learning at home. As we prepare for Monday’s Grab and Go Lunch and another round of Chromebook distribution, we will be making tweaks to our processes to make sure things run smoothly and that our community and staff are safe. As we work out the kinks, I appreciate your patience and flexibility with the staff who are working hard for our students and for each other as we are all trying to navigate our new normal.

Distance Learning:

Last week, I shared that our district was focused on offering supplemental learning opportunities that are optional for students during this short-term closure. I am writing to let you know that, given the increased potential for long-term school closures and in response to direction from the Department of Education, Watertown Public Schools will move from a focus on supplemental learning opportunities that are optional to distance learning where students are required to complete learning tasks with a target start date of March 30, 2020. Our goal is to provide continuity of learning in alignment with our curriculum to the best extent possible in these unprecedented times. While we recognize that remote learning is not a replacement for typical, in-school learning, we are dedicated to providing equitable educational opportunities for all of our students.

As you can imagine, this transition comes with a host of logistical challenges. Over the next few days, we will be refining our plan for distance learning, providing professional learning to support teachers in their planning efforts and closely following state guidelines. The quality of the supplemental learning activities teachers have already provided has been excellent and I am confident that they are up for this next challenge. While I know that there will be bumps in the road that we are about to embark, I also know that we are a strong learning community, and we will work together diligently to do what we can for our students.

Next Steps:

As we work with staff to prepare for how to support students through distance learning, we want to make sure that we support our families at home. On Monday, families will have another opportunity to borrow a Chromebook for use at home. If you are interested in picking up a Chromebook on Monday, please contact Jeff Turner (Director of Technology) via email at turnerje@watertownps.org. We are currently focusing the Chromebook distribution on 3rd-12th grade students who will need devices to access their Google Classroom assignments.

As always, please email questions to questions@watertownps.org and check the COVID-19 Questions and Answers page for FAQs. These are unprecedented and ever-changing times to say the least, but we will get through this together!

March 17, 2020

Good afternoon Watertown families,

We have made a slight change to the location for tomorrow’s Chromebook pickup. The pickup location is still at Watertown High School but has been moved from the bus drop off loop in front of the main entrance to the parent drop off loop near the pool entrance. As a reminder, Chromebooks will be available for pickup for all who indicated a need on the Technology Survey or emailed their request to questions@watertowps.org. Please bring a pen with you to fill out a short loaner form. If you did not sign up for tomorrow’s Chromebook pickup but are in need of a device while we are closed, please email Jeff Turner (Director of Technology) at turnerje@watertownps.org.

I’d also like to say a huge thanks to all who have reached out and shared positive stories of how our staff has gone above and beyond to support students. From Story-Time on Twitter Live to creating a drive-by library to teachers calling to check in on their students, I am reminded of how caring our community is. This morning, I received word that Colleen Murphy, who currently runs TOWN–an online alumni network for Watertown–launched a new platform called Town Relief. The goal of Town Relief is to make local connections between people who are willing to volunteer and people who will need relief during this crisis. I encourage you to check out the site to consider opportunities to offer and receive community support.

March 16, 2020

Thank you so much for your patience and flexibility during these unprecedented times. Below you will find an update of the most current information regarding COVID-19 and its impact on our district. If you have any questions, please email questions@watertownps.org.

Grab and Go Lunch:

In order to provide additional support to our students and their families while schools are closed, we are offering grab and go breakfast and lunches for our students at no charge. Because this program is an extension of the National School Lunch Program and National School Breakfast Program, daily menus are designed to meet federal guidelines. Below are additional details:

  • Families will be able to pick up meals on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at Watertown High School. The Grab and Go program will start on Wednesday March 18th. Pick up will be at the bus drop off loop in front of the main entrance doors. Families will drive up through the drop off area at Watertown High School to receive the grab and go meals.
  • Mondays’ pick-up will consist of two breakfasts and two lunches, and Wednesdays’ pick-up will consist of three breakfasts and three lunches.
  • Breakfasts will contain a whole grain muffin, cereal, or yogurt and a graham cracker with a fruit, juice, and a milk. Lunches will contain a sandwich with fruit, vegetables and a milk.
  • In accordance with guidance from the State of Connecticut, families are allowed one breakfast and one lunch per day for every child under 18 living in the household, as long as at least one child attends Watertown Public Schools. Click here for the weekly menu.

If you plan on participating in the Grab and Go Lunch Program please click here to fill out a quick form and receive more information.

Chromebook Distribution:

As you know, the district is loaning Chromebooks to families whose children do not have access to a device during the closure. Below are additional details:

  • We are working closely with the Connecticut Education Network (CEN) to ensure that the district filters that block inappropriate material while students use devices on our district’s network are active while they are on your home network. Additional information will be shared with families when they pick up their Chromebook.
  • Chromebook pick up will be on Wednesday, March 18th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Chromebook pick up will be at the bus drop off loop in front of the main entrance doors at Watertown High School. Families will drive up through the drop off area to pick up Chromebooks (the same location as Grab and Go Lunches)
  • If you would like a Chromebook for your child but did not fill out the previously sent echnology survey, please send a message to questions@watertownps.org and our technology department will add you to the list.

Supplemental Learning:

Information about supplemental learning opportunities was shared with families on Friday. Schools sent additional information to families to ensure students had access to materials that would combat the loss of instructional time and maintain the continuity of education. As a reminder, these tasks are optional and will not be graded. Click here for links to grade level and school specific information related to supplemental learning.

Social Distancing:

As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and ways to slow the spread and transmission of the virus, we have heard many health experts talk about social distancing. As we begin what may be a lengthy period of schools being closed, it is imperative that our school community does not see this as an extended vacation. To the extent possible, we urge you to limit the amount of social interaction you and your child have with others. Several parents have reached out to me to express concerns about the spread of COVID-19, and lend their support to a collective focus on social distancing across our community. I have seen how our community comes together to offer support for each other during trying times. My hope is that you will consider social distancing as a way to care for yourself and to care for others.

As you may or may not be aware, the Governor has mandated all Connecticut Schools close until March 30, 2020. The Commissioner of Education provided an update to Superintendents this morning, and we have a follow up meeting with the Governor later this evening. As we receive more specific information, we will continue to communicate regularly. You may also want to check the COVID-19 Question and Answer Page on our district website for answers to frequently asked questions. You can also send your questions to questions@watertownps.org.

Thank you for your patience, flexibility and above all support of our students and our schools. Please stay safe and healthy.

March 13, 2020

As you know, all Watertown Public Schools will be closed for two weeks. Students and staff are scheduled to return on Monday, March 30th. While we will work to reopen schools as soon as our local health department feels it is safe, families should be prepared for the potential of an extended school closing. As promised, I am writing with additional information regarding the closing of our schools. We have set up an email address for you to send COVID-19 questions that relate to the current school closing, the impact to your child, or other school closing related topics. Those questions can be sent to questions@watertownps.org. Starting on Monday, we will begin to post the answers to your questions to a Q & A Section on the district website (www.watertownps.org) for easy access to responses.

School Calendar:

Yesterday, Governor Lamont issued an executive order to waive the 180-day school year requirement for all school districts, however, following his announcement, the Commissioner of Education clarified that districts will still be required to make up as many missed days in June as we can (until June 30), unless we have a state-approved waiver for distance learning plan. As mentioned in my previous message, Watertown made the decision to follow the recommendation from the Connecticut State Department of Education and provide supplemental learning opportunities for students instead of engaging in distance learning. As a result, we will make up as many missed days as possible until June 30 and we will not be penalized if we are unable to meet the 180-day school year requirement.

Supplemental Learning:

Prior to closing schools, teachers and related service providers began compiling a bank of resources and tasks to combat the loss of instructional time and maintain continuity of education. Although we recommend your student spends some time each day engaged in learning activities, these tasks are optional and will not be graded. There will be no penalty if the work is not completed. You will notice that several teachers have included logs for your students to keep track of their work. If you are unable to print the log at home, please free to keep track of your child’s progress electronically, which can be later emailed to the teacher, or on a regular piece of paper in lieu of the provided template. This logs helps teachers know how much your child is engaged in learning at home.

The duration of time your student spends working is age and student dependent. The intent is not for this to replace entire school days, but rather help to keep skills and concepts fresh for students. You may want to think of it more along the lines of a slightly extended homework time. Additionally, teachers have been asked to assemble choices of activities students should be able to complete independently. However, if you find there is a particular task or activity that is too difficult or frustrating for your student, they may simply pick another choice.

Supplemental resources for all students can be accessed by clicking here. You can also access additional supplemental resources for elementary students; resources are broken out by grade level and by school. Supplemental resources for high school and middle school students will be sent via email to students by Wednesday. Middle and high school students can also access resources and materials by logging into Google Classroom.

Technology Access:

Students will have the opportunity to access most of the materials electronically. If your student does not have access to a device, the district will lend you a Chromebook to use for the duration of the closure. Chromebooks will be available for pickup on Wednesday, March 18th from 11:00-1:00 pm for families that checked “No, my student does not have access to a device at home” on the technology survey. Watertown High School will be the pick up location for all students who request a Chromebook and they will be contacted by the district with additional details. If you have not completed the technology survey, please click here.

If you do not have access to WiFi, we are happy to provide you with paper copies of resources and activities via mail. If you would like paper copies of resources and tasks, please make this request to your child’s principal.

Building Access:

On Monday, March 16th, students and staff will have a limited amount of time to pick up any essential items that they need while schools are closed. Staff will be permitted to enter their school from 8:00-10:00 am, and students may pick up essential items from 10:00-1:00 pm. K-8th grade students must be accompanied by an adult. If you or your child is experiencing flu-like symptoms, please do not come to school on Monday.

All school-sponsored activities and events will be canceled or postponed until Monday, March 30, 2020. Schools may be used for community meetings during this period but students will not be permitted to access other parts of the building to pick up items.

Lunch Options:

We recognize that this closure will have a significant impact on our entire community, especially students who rely on schools to provide healthy options for breakfast and lunch. Our Food Services Director (Ms. Onion) is working with staff to provide grab and go meal options for all Watertown Public School students at no charge. Meals will be distributed at Watertown High School on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00-1:00 pm. Mondays’ pick-up will consist of two breakfasts and two lunches, and Wednesdays’ pick-up will consist of three breakfasts and three lunches. Ms. Onion will send additional information on Monday and the meals will begin on Wednesday.

Hourly Employees:

These are unprecedented times and we are working hard to develop plans that support our students and our staff. We understand closing for two weeks will have a negative impact on our hourly employees and we are monitoring recommendations from the Department of Labor and working closely with our legal representation to prevent lapses in pay which could create financial hardships. Our administration will continue to remain in close contact with representatives from our local unions.

Be assured that I will continue to provide you with updates and share information on our district website. If you have any COVID-19 questions that relate to school closings, please send an email to questions@watertownps.org. Questions and answers will be compiled and shared on the district site on Monday. Thank you for your flexibility and for all of your support during this time. My focus remains on the safety of our students and staff, and I will be sure to share regular updates with our entire school community. 

March 12, 2020

Over the past week we have seen an escalation of COVID-19 across our state. While we still do not have any confirmed or active cases in the district, we are following the guidance of our local health department and taking the precautionary measures to keep students and staff safe. Starting tomorrow, Friday, March 13th all Watertown Public Schools will be closed for two weeks, through March 27th (students and staff will return on Monday, March 30th). While we will work to reopen schools as soon as our local health department feels it is safe, families should be prepared for the potential of an extended school closing.

Tomorrow, I will share additional information regarding some of the logistics related to our closing and provide information about how to access supplemental learning materials that will be available for your child. Thank you for your flexibility and for all you do to support our students and staff.

March 11, 2020

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rises across the state, there has also been an increase in misinformation within our community. I have been in regular contact with our local health department and we are closely following their recommendations regarding the prevention of COVID-19 and how to respond if students or staff have been exposed.

To be clear, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our district. As promised, I will continue to provide you with official updates as new information is shared. Please do not rely on any communications regarding Watertown Public Schools unless it comes from my office, the Board of Education, or the Town of Watertown. 

March 10, 2020

We have been actively working with our administrators and staff to develop a plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and plan for the continuity of education should there be a need to close our schools. As you know, we are monitoring daily updates from the CDC and following recommendations from our local and state health departments. Yesterday, school districts received recommendations from the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) regarding upcoming school events and possible school closures. Below is a summary of the recommendations that directly impact the operations of our district.

School Closures and Distance Learning:

The decision to close schools will be made at the district level in consultation with and at the recommendations of local health officials. If short term closures (up to two weeks) are necessary, the CSDE’s recommendation is that school districts “close school outright to avoid inequities, staff contractual issues, special education access, etc.” Districts will be expected to make up days by extending the school year. In order to provide teachers with time to plan and gather materials and resources that will allow students and families the opportunity to remain actively engaged in learning should we close, I am postponing afternoon and evening conferences on 3/11 and 3/24. Students will have the opportunity to access many of the materials electronically and schools will make hard copies available to families who need them. In order to best prepare for this plan, I am requesting that you complete a technology access survey. Please complete one submission for each student you have in the district. The survey will help us to ensure that devices will be available for families that need them.

Postponing or Cancellation of Events:

Earlier this week, the Governor provided guidance to State Agencies regarding community events. Based on this guidance, the CSDE recommends postponing large events where there would be 100 or more people in attendance. The CIAC has already canceled all remaining CIAC winter tournament games, and I am working closely with building administrators to make decisions about upcoming concerts, plays, etc. Additionally, we are currently evaluating each of the upcoming field trips. Parents will be notified if a trip for your child is going to be canceled or modified.

Supporting Students:

When it comes to your child’s health, we urge you to take necessary precautions. If you or your child is feeling sick please keep them home, especially if they have a fever or respiratory distress. Please remind your child to engage in everyday preventative actions to help stop the spread of germs:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

As you can imagine, students may be concerned about COVID-19 and how it may impact them. For guidance on how to talk to your child about this issue, please review this resource from the National Association of School Psychologists. As the number of cases increases and comes closer and closer to our area, I ask for your sensitivity to those in our community who may have a connection to this or any illness. We want to ensure we are acting out of fact and not fear.

COVID-19 is a very fluid situation and our district receives multiple updates throughout the day. Over the next several days, our plans may change as circumstances may dictate. Please know that I take the responsibility of keeping our students and staff safe very seriously, and I will continue to keep you informed as new developments unfold. 

March 6, 2020

As you know, we have been closely following daily updates from the CDC and following all recommendations from our local and state health departments. On Tuesday, I attended a special meeting with representatives from the Torrington Area Health District to discuss growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and the potential impact on local school districts. In the meeting, health officials reminded district leaders that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection and that we should remind our community to take these everyday preventative actions to help stop the spread of germs:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

While we all hope for no interruption to teaching and learning in our area, we also discussed preparation steps school districts can take. Earlier this week, the CDC released a document called Interim Guidance for K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019. The Connecticut State Department of Education is also working on guidance specific to the continuity of education in the event the state and federal officials require public school closures. Our district leaders have reviewed the recommendations and are exploring the possibility of utilizing digital resources to support student learning if it becomes necessary.

As mentioned in my previous messages, the safety of our students and staff is my highest priority. We will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and our local health department, and provide updates to our families as new information becomes available.

February 28, 2020

The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) continues to closely monitor the quickly evolving novel (new) coronavirus, (named “2019- nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and continues to expand internationally. In our efforts to bring schools and communities the latest information, DPH and local health departments and districts are participating in weekly national conference calls with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and are also holding weekly state conference calls to exchange information impacting the state and local communities.

Over the last several weeks, I have been closely following any recommendations from the Torrington Area Health district to make sure we have the most up to date information regarding this virus. Outbreaks involving novel coronaviruses evolve quickly and recommendations from public health officials may change frequently as new information becomes available. On Tuesday, I will be joining other local superintendents in a meeting with representatives from the Torrington Area Health District to discuss communication, prevention and preparedness. The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. As always, I will continue to share relevant updates as additional information becomes available. 

January 31, 2020

As you may know, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring a coronavirus outbreak that began in China. Although there have been no reports of person-to-person spread in the United States, five cases have been confirmed in four states (Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington). Although the CDC considers this a very serious public health threat, based on current information, the immediate health risk from coronavirus to the general American public is considered low at this time.

This week, School Superintendents and Chief Elected Officials received an update from the Torrington Area Director of Health regarding the coronavirus. While the risk is low, the CDC recommends taking everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs. Also, since it is currently flu and respiratory disease season, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.

Throughout this season, our custodial staff has been working hard to sterilize surfaces to reduce the spread of germs, and our nurses have stressed the importance of adhering to our fever protocol: students must be fever-free for 24 hours without anti-fever medication before returning to school (please note that any temperature 100 degrees or above is considered a fever). The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. I will continue to share relevant updates as additional information becomes available.