Fairfield schools: Nearly 300 in quarantine

File photo of a school bus.

File photo of a school bus.

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FAIRFIELD — Fairfield Woods Middle School dismissed early on Monday after a cafeteria worker tested positive for COVID, officials said.

“School will reopen tomorrow,” Director of Communications Andrea Clarke said Monday. “There was absolutely no student contact. Two other staff members were identified as being close contacts and are in quarantine.”

Clarke said the early dismissal was because the school could not serve lunch.

Buses began picking up students at 12:30 p.m., and officials asked families to refrain from calling the school.

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The news comes after nearly 50 people in the public schools community tested positive for COVID-19 over winter break and another 25 or so during their first week back.

There were 49 cases reported between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, Superintendent of Schools Mike Cummings and COVID-19 Health And Safety Compliance Liaison Angelus Papageorge said in a message last Thursday. As schools were closed, they said, there was no need for in-school contact tracing, adding the Fairfield Health Department followed up on all cases.

Fourteen cases were reported last Monday through Wednesday with an additional 10 reported in the district on Thursday alone, officials said

As of Friday afternoon, 35 students and 11 staff were confirmed to have coronavirus and 289 students and staff were in quarantine, the district reported. It also reported that 267 students and 76 staff have tested positive for the virus and recovered.

School officials are drafting an emergency closure policy written specifically for COVID-related closures, which Cummings spoke about at last week’s special school board meeting. It reflects some of the guidance Connecticut State Department of Education Miguel Cardona sent to the districts.

“Essentially, it’s our emergency closure policy but with the language lifted from the commissioner’s letter from October,” he said. “It’s essentially providing some guidance around remote learning days that could be instituted this year due to weather.”

Cummings said he hoped to be able to bring the draft — as well as the regulations school officials would use to determine how to close the school in relation to COVID — before the board at Tuesday’s meeting to read and vote on. He pointed out that this school year has been one of constant change.

“So, I’m hesitant to let it go to the second board meeting... in January, which is all the way at the end of the month,” he said.

Board member Jennifer Maxon-Kennelly noted the board only approves the closure policy, not the regulations. She said the district already did what the policy’s proposing when it opted to use a remote learning day instead of a second snow day after last month’s storm.

“We have a lot of concerns about this policy actually being used, and I’m happy to say Mr. Cummings was certainly extremely receptive to all of our concerns,” she said. “We’ll probably give voice to those Tuesday night, not in opposition to the policy, but just so that the public knows all of our concerns about it and know that they have been part of the formal policy discussion.”