Fairfield Superintendent: Six more people in district test positive for coronavirus

Fairfield Ludlowe High School Headmaster Greg Hatzis chats with senior Valerie Builes during the first day of school for Fairfield Public Schools in Fairfield, Conn., on Tuesday Sept. 8, 2020.

Fairfield Ludlowe High School Headmaster Greg Hatzis chats with senior Valerie Builes during the first day of school for Fairfield Public Schools in Fairfield, Conn., on Tuesday Sept. 8, 2020.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — Six more people in the school district’s community have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Tuesday afternoon.

The positive cases include three people at Fairfield Ludlowe High, one person at Dwight Elementary, one at Fairfield Warde High and a fully-remote student, Superintendent of Schools Mike Cummings and COVID-19 Health And Safety Compliance Liaison Angelus Papageorge said in a letter to families and staff.

Officials said contact tracing has been confirmed for all these cases and any close contacts are now in quarantine.

“If there is a need for anyone else to self-quarantine, they will be contacted directly by a member of the Fairfield Health Department Contact Tracing Team,” they said.

Cummings and Papageorge said the protocols are working and the district’s positive cases so far were because those people live with someone who tested positive or came into contact with someone who tested positive outside of school.

The process is the same for both students and staff, they said, adding health and safety protocols are followed in consultation with Health Department Director Sands Cleary and Nursing Supervisor Jill Mitchell.

Cummings and Papageorge said they’ve received questions from the community and so laid out the steps taken when a person in the school district tests positive for COVID.

The health department immediately reaches out to the individual and their school to begin contact tracing as soon as the health department is notified of the case, they said.

“Staff who reside outside of Fairfield contact their building administrator, who in turn reaches out to the Fairfield Health Department and central office,” the officials said. “Close contacts in the school setting are identified by the school nurse, principal and central office working with the Fairfield Health Department’s contact tracing team.”

Cummings and Papageorge pointed out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define a close contact as someone who was exposed to a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes, or within six feet of them, up to two days prior to symptoms or a positive test.

“Keep in mind reducing our current six foot distancing dramatically increases the number of individuals who would be identified as close contacts and need to quarantine for 14 days,” they said, noting that people who qualify as close contacts are contacted by the Fairfield Health Department Contact Tracing Team.

Cummings and Papageorge said the contact tracing team follows up with individuals who test positive, as well as those in quarantine, on a daily basis to be sure that they are symptom and fever-free before returning to school.

“By going back two days before the onset of symptoms (or positive test result), we are identifying anyone in school who may be at risk,” they said. “Placing close contacts immediately into quarantine in turn keeps the virus from being transmitted within the school, along with the current effective mitigation measures.”

The administrators said the district evaluates each situation on a case-by-case basis to determine if they need to close a building for contact tracing and cleaning.

“Many times, the individual has not been in the building for two days prior, due to previously being quarantined, having stayed home awaiting test results, or being out of school due to symptoms,” the officials said. “In these cases, there may be no close contacts identified and buildings do not need to close.”

In other cases, Cummings and Papageorge said, the contact tracing team is able to identify any close contacts and have them quarantine immediately, so there is no need for a building to close or additional cleaning measures.

Officials will decide if a building needs to close and for how long if they need more time for contact tracing, or an individual showed symptoms in the building.

“The safety of our community is our priority,” they said. “We are monitoring this situation closely and will continue to keep you informed of any changes or additional information.”