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East Lyme, Colchester schools report COVID-19 cases

Schools in East Lyme and Colchester on Monday were added to the growing list of local schools reporting positive cases of COVID-19.

As a result, East Lyme High School will be closed for in-person classes on Tuesday while Colchester Elementary School announced two weeks of remote learning for students. One member of the East Lyme High School community tested positive, while three positive cases among Colchester Elementary School staff members led to a staff shortage and a temporary shutdown of in-person classes.

The East Lyme announcement came on Monday from School Superintendent Jeffrey Newton and followed news last week of confirmed COVID-19 cases at Fitch High School in Groton and Huntington Elementary School in Norwich.

In a memo to staff, Newton said a member of the East Lyme High School community had tested positive for COVID-19, but did not reveal whether it was a student or staff member. The affected person was instructed to remain at home in self-isolation and provided with instructions to follow prior to returning to school.

Newton, in his letter, said the last time the person was in school was on Sept. 14. Ledge Light Health District has started contact tracing. Anyone who is considered a “close contact” with the person has been or will be contacted by the school or health officials and provided with instructions.

Newton said the case was found to be isolated, but the district decided to “err on the side of caution” by closing the high school on Tuesday to students and staff to allow for completion of contact tracing. The school, which is working in a hybrid model with no in-person classes on Wednesdays, will reopen to students on Thursday. Offices will reopen, unless otherwise instructed, on Wednesday.

“After conferring with Ledge Light Health District, it has been deemed safe to keep all other school buildings open given no contact has been made regarding this case in any other building,” Newton wrote.

East Lyme High School students will continue studies remotely on Tuesday.

In Colchester, Superintendent Jeffrey E. Burt announced that effective Tuesday, Colchester Elementary School will be closed for in-person classes for 14 days due to a staffing shortage. There will be no instruction for elementary school students on Tuesday to allow teachers to prepare for remote learning. All students will transition to remote learning beginning Wednesday.  

“Three CES staff members currently in isolation have tested positive for COVID-19. This necessitated the quarantining of additional staff as well as some students who came in direct contact with those staff members,” Burt said in his notice to families. "Due to the number of staff currently in quarantine and the nature of their responsibilities, CES could not remain open and provide services to all students.”

All staff and students who have been in contact with staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 have already been contacted and are quarantining. The staff with confirmed COVID-19 cases have been in isolation since Sunday. There has been no known COVID-19 transmission to students.

g.smith@theday.com

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