By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck High School is closed until further notice after a student tested positive for COVID-19.
In a letter to parents, Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini said school officials learned of the positive test Wednesday. The student, a senior who doesn’t ride the bus, was last in the high school on Tuesday, he said.
Naugatuck High dismissed early Wednesday. High school students will distance learn at home for now, and all before and after-school activities at the school are postponed.
“I feel that the superintendent and the Naugatuck High School administration took the right steps and acted quickly in this situation by closing the high school and informing the public,” Board of Education Chairman Jeff Litke said.
School officials are working together with the Naugatuck Valley Health District to assess the situation, conduct contact tracing and determine when the school will reopen. School officials expect a decision on how to proceed will be made in two to five days.
“Through all of our steps we will continue to make the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community a top priority,” Litke said.
All classrooms and physical spaces were cleaned and sanitized after dismissal Tuesday and between classes Wednesday, the letter stated. The entire school will be “deep cleaned and sanitized.”
“We are making sure the school is safe to return,” said Carissa Caserta, acting director of the Naugatuck Valley Health District.
Caserta said health officials started contact tracing Wednesday. She said they are talking with school officials and the student to determine who the student may have come in contact with while at school. She said anyone who was within 6 feet of the student for more than 15 minutes will have to quarantine for 14 days, and distance learn, before returning to school.
The positive case at Naugatuck High is the first one at a school within Naugatuck Valley Health District’s jurisdiction, which also includes Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Seymour and Shelton.
“We’re taking this serious and taking every case, case by case,” Caserta said.
Naugatuck started the school year Sept. 2, which was the first time borough students returned to classrooms since schools shut down in March due to the coronavirus.
Naugatuck schools are following a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning at home. High school students are divided into two groups. Students attend school in-person two days a week and distance learn at the home the other days. The student that tested positive is assigned to the group that attends school in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to officials.
Starting Thursday, high school students can pick up lunch and breakfast at the school on Rubber Avenue between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Meals will be available for pickup while the school is closed.
Andreas Yilma contributed to this report.
Below is the letter from Naugatuck Public Schools:
Dear Parents and Guardians:
We are writing to inform you that today, September 9, 2020 we learned that an individual who was last physically present at Naugatuck High School on September 8, 2020 tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, all students at Naugatuck High School will dismiss today at 11:00 a.m., including those that typically stay longer.
The individual who tested positive is a 12th grade student, who does not ride the bus, and is assigned to Group B-in-person learning on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All classrooms and physical spaces were cleaned and sanitized after dismissal yesterday and between all classes as well today.
Based on guidance from the Connecticut State Department of Education, Department of Public Health, and the CDC we are immediately taking the following steps:
- Effective immediately, Naugatuck High School is closed. Until further notice, all Naugatuck High School students will participate in distance learning from home.
- Our nursing supervisor, the Naugatuck Valley Health Department, and our medical advisor were notified. Contact tracing is underway.
- The entire school will be deep cleaned and sanitized.
- We will work with the Naugatuck Valley Health Department to assess the situation and determine Naugatuck High School’s next steps which will include when staff and students may return to the school building. We estimate that this will take between 2 and 5 days.
- We will communicate with the Naugatuck High School community once the next steps have been determined.
- Beginning tomorrow, lunch and breakfast will be available for pick-up during the closure at Naugatuck High School between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
- During the closure, all before and after school activities at Naugatuck High School are postponed.
Within the next few days, Principal Harris will communicate important updates including Naugatuck High School’s next steps which will include when staff and students may return to the school building.