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High schools in East Lyme and Waterford as well as Norwich Free Academy move to remote learning

East Lyme — High schools in three communities across the region announced Monday they were switching to remote learning due to COVID-19 cases.

East Lyme High School will temporarily shift to remote learning and East Lyme Middle School will remain in remote learning because of new positive COVID-19 cases at the two schools. The schools will remain in remote learning through Nov. 30. All elementary school buildings remain open.

“Given the continued daily positive cases coming forth at the high school level, many pending cases, and a staffing shortage issue due to quarantine requirements, East Lyme High School will be moving to temporary remote learning effective immediately,” School Superintendent Jeffrey R. Newton said in a statement to the school community.

The last time the infected individual at East Lyme High School was in school was on Nov. 12. The infected East Lyme Middle School individual was last in school on Nov. 10. Ledge Light Health District is in the process of contact tracing.

Beginning Tuesday, Norwich Free Academy will switch to fully remote learning that will run to at least until Dec. 7. The decision came  after five new COVID-19 cases were reported in the school community on Monday, seven cases last week, and information that “an unknown number” of students attended an off-campus gathering where so far at least one area student has tested positive and others report as symptomatic,” Head of School Brian Kelly wrote in a letter to staff and families Monday. NFA had been in a hybrid learning model.

“To date, our mitigation factors have proven effective,” Kelly wrote. “However, each positive case puts an additional burden on our faculty and staff and makes it challenging to provide adequate staffing. More importantly, I cannot emphasize enough how the decisions happening outside of our campus are continuing to put everyone on campus at risk.”

NFA spokesman Michael O’Farrell said Monday that the shift to fully remote learning also means there will be no extracurricular club activities or sports on campus during the remote learning time. Some activities or club meetings might take place virtually.

Meanwhile, Norwich Public Schools Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow said the preschool through eighth grade district will remain in hybrid learning model through the week ending Dec. 4.

Since Friday, Stringfellow has reported three incidents in which the families of students who tested positive for the coronavirus did not promptly notify the schools of the exposure or test results.

On Monday, Stringfellow reported one student at Teachers Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School had become symptomatic on Nov. 5 and 6 and remained in school those days and for a half day on Nov. 12. The school was not notified of the symptoms. The student tested positive on Nov. 12. The school district was not informed until Monday, Stringfellow reported.

Also on Monday, she reported that a student at the Kelly STEAM Middle School had become symptomatic Nov. 6 and tested positive on Nov. 12. The student last was in school on Nov. 6, but the school was not notified of the case until Monday.

Another case came from Samuel Huntington Elementary School.

Stringfellow said until these incidents, families and staff have been reporting possible symptoms and COVID-19 tests promptly to school officials.

“In these cases, the parent notified us late,” Stringfellow said. “All three were different. In some cases, the symptoms were earlier than the test, and the student was symptomatic much earlier than the test. The parent notified us of the test, but we need to know of the first onset of symptoms, exposure or test. That has been happening, up until Friday.”

In Waterford, three new positive cases of COVID-19 in at the high school has caused it to shift to remote learning for 14 days.

In an email Monday, Superintendent Thomas Giard informed parents/guardians and staff that the high school will move to full distance learning until Nov. 30. Of the three cases, one was last in the building Nov. 2, another on Nov. 5 and the third on Nov. 6.

And an individual connected with Quaker Hill Elementary School, who was last in the building on Nov. 10, also tested positive for COVID-19.

He said the closure of in-person learning is not only in the interest of the safety of staff and students There will be no extra-curricular activities or sports during the two-week closure."






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