BREAKING NEWS: Possible COVID Case Causes WHS Extended School Year Location to Go Online

Just two weeks after students and teachers made a successful return to in-person classroom learning for Wilton Public School’s Extended School Year (ESY), GOOD Morning Wilton has learned that a suspected case of COVID has pushed one of the program’s two locations back to online teaching.

Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Andrea Leonardi confirmed that school officials decided to make the call to shutter the ESY location at the high school “in an excess of caution.”

“We have a person who reported experiencing illness symptoms. In an excess of caution we decided to move all students and ESY staff to eLearning for the next 14 days,” Leonardi confirmed in an email to GMW.

She added that “all decisions were made in consultation with the Department of Public Health,” and that the Board of Education has been informed about the incident.

Leonardi’s team reached out to families of students enrolled in the ESY program and staff, “consistent with HIPPA protocols and confidentiality requirements.” She declined to identify if the person who reported symptoms is a student or staff member.

Students have been attending ESY in person at Wilton High School since Monday, July 6. Leonardi said they will now transition back to virtual learning for the next 14 days. She also said that all staff and students are being monitored closely.

Leonardi said at this point there is only one possible case, and the only ESY location that is affected is at the high school, where approximately 25 students in grade six through age 21 are enrolled. Learning will continue to be in person for now at Miller-Driscoll Elementary School, the ESY location for approximately 25 students in pre-K through grade 5.

Wilton’s Extended School Year program offers students with special needs extra learning support and curriculum over the summer. When this summer’s ESY began running two weeks ago, the 50 or so students who returned to the classrooms were actually in the minority; according to Leonardi, who was interviewed for a GOOD Morning Wilton story that ran just yesterday about COVID protocols in place for the summer, most ESY students have been receiving services online from the beginning.

“We determined what we would do is continue virtual learning for the vast majority of our students…with teachers who are working with teachers and therapists, speech pathologists, counselors, OTs, and then we focused our face-to-face work on our most complex kids who really do require much more intensive instruction and face-to-face work,” she explained.

In that interview, Leonardi was asked what would happen if a student or teacher either appeared to have COVID-19 symptoms or if someone tested positive.

If symptoms appeared during school in either a student or staff member, the schools offer an isolation area where a school nurse would address their needs until the student or staff member could be taken home. She said school officials would ask that the person be tested, or that they quarantine at home for 14 days, and that if a positive test was reported, administrators would determine in consultation with district health advisors whether or not the ESY program would need to be shut down and everyone quarantined for 14 days, “which would likely be the outcome of a positive test,” Leonardi added. “Likely a positive test would result in a shutdown. And then we would move to eLearning for the remainder of ESY.”

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