Several Connecticut School Districts Delay Return as COVID Cases Rise Among Students

Several school districts in Connecticut delayed their return from holiday break Monday as COVID cases, particularly among students, continued to rise in recent weeks.

The uptick has been swift as 1,021 positive tests were reported among school students while the district was on holiday break last week, in addition to over 3,000 that were reported among K-12 students the week prior.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that he did not support schools going back to remote learning. Remote learning will only be allowed on a class-by-class basis because of an outbreak with exceptions for students who may have a family member particularly at risk to COVID.

Westport, Enfield and Region 14 schools, which include Woodbury and Bethlehem, closed Monday, while Stratford and Stonington announced closures for Monday and Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

"The state of Connecticut does not consider remote learning as an alternative this year to in-school days, and any remote days for the district would need to be made up," West Hartford Superintendent Tom Moore said in a letter to parents. "We also do not have the staffing necessary to set up a large-scale remote learning school like we did last year."

Several other districts in the state pushed the start of their school day back several hours to evaluate any potential staffing shortages the school was facing because of positive tests.

Connecticut, COVID, Public Schools, Winter Break
Students arrive for the first day of in-person learning for five days per week at Stark Elementary School on March 10, 2021 in Stamford, Connecticut. Several districts in Connecticut delayed their return from winter breaks due to rising COVID cases among school age children. John Moore/Getty Images

"Our administrative team has worked diligently throughout the winter break in an effort to prepare for our return to school tomorrow," Stonington officials said in a statement Sunday. "However, at this point in time it is not safely feasible for us to open our schools tomorrow and Tuesday.

Lamont, speaking in Stamford on Monday, said the state is sending 500,000 rapid tests to Connecticut schools over the next few days to make sure that staff and students are safe.

"I'm really pleased that the overwhelming majority of our schools are open," he said.

Many colleges and universities in Connecticut, including Yale and UConn have announced they will start their spring semesters online.

UConn and other schools, including Connecticut College, have also told students they will be required to have booster shots once they are eligible for them.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Connecticut has risen over the past two weeks from 2,306 on Dec. 18 to 5,090 on Jan. 1, according to Johns Hopkins.

But Dr. Manisha Juthani, the state's health commissioner, said most of the cases, especially among the vaccinated, are mild.

"As you heard about what happens with viruses as they adapt over time, they do become more infectious and less virulent," she said. "But for the unvaccinated, this is still a very serious disease."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.