Trumbull school closes for 2 weeks as 70 people quarantined
TRUMBULL — Hillcrest Middle School will be closed for two weeks because there are not enough substitute teachers to cover for the staff members required to be quarantined due to COVID-19, the superintendent said Wednesday.
Superintendent Martin Semmel said there are about 70 people who have been asked to quarantine after coming in close contact with someone associated with the middle school who tested positive for COVID-19.
Semmel also announced Wednesday a person at Trumbull High School has also tested positive for the coronavirus. Contact tracing was still being conducted Wednesday for that case and the high school plans to remain open.
“The (Hillcrest) closing is necessary because we do not have enough combined substitutes to cover staff who are now required to quarantine in the Hillcrest case and the second case (at Trumbull High),” Semmel said in a letter to families and staff.
The district did not say whether the cases involved students or staff members.
Semmel said the Hillcrest building is safe, and staff members have been cleared to return.
“Teachers can return to the building and teach their classes remotely,” he said.
Students at the middle school will study remotely until Oct. 1, which would be when the quarantine period ends.
Semmel said the person at Trumbull High “was on school premises while potentially contagious and did have direct exposure with other members of our community.”
The high school will remain open while the town’s health department and school nursing services conduct contact tracing.
“If no additional cases are identified, we anticipate that THS will remain open,” Semmel said.
The school was cleaned and disinfected Wednesday when all students in the district had already been scheduled for distance learning. Trumbull High, which shares a campus with Hillcrest, has sufficient staff to reopen, Semmel said.
The number of staff who need to quarantine at both schools means “well over 10 classrooms” at Hillcrest do not have enough supervision to hold in-person instruction, Semmel said.
Semmel said it was possible, but unlikely, that Hillcrest could reopen before October.
“We’ve been looking to get additional substitutes for the district, but so is every other district,” he said. “We’ll keep trying to find more subs, and if we can, I’ll be able to reverse my earlier decision.”
The substitutes wouldn’t necessarily need to teach, since the quarantined teachers could conduct remote instruction as long as they remained healthy, he said.
“It’s just a question of supervision and safety, needing to have staff in the rooms with the kids,” Semmel said.
Trumbull Health Director Lucienne Bango said Wednesday her agency was notified of the case at Hillcrest through mandatory reporting. She said the town health department was still conducting contact tracing as of that morning.
Hillcrest Middle School will provide breakfast and lunch services for curbside pickup at the school from 9:30 a.m. to noon.