Just as COVID-19 case numbers are rising around the state, there has also been a noticeable increase in cases at Wilton High School in the last week. Since just Wednesday, March 24, there have been 13 new cases reported to school officials.
Tuesday, March 30: 2
Monday, March 29: 3
Friday, March 26: 6
Thursday, March 25: 1
Wednesday, March 24: 1
Up until two weeks ago, I was feeling really optimistic about the spring, but with each passing day I feel a little less optimistic,” said Dr. Kevin Smith, Superintendent of Wilton Public Schools.
Smith said that some of the cases are related to school athletic teams–but not all.
“A portion of those new cases are separate and distinct. What we’re, we continue to see primarily in-home transmission, whether it’s from families that live together or extended families.”
With team try-outs and practices underway, Smith has communicated with WHS Athletic Director Chris McDougal about reinforcing protocols to prevent virus transmission.
“As we’ve been watching numbers come up and we’ve seen in the region other teams have had to quarantine, it’s gotten in the way of state championship games, or what have you. I just said to him, he needs to continue to really reinforce mask-wearing and social distancing with his coaches,” Smith explained. “[McDougal] said yesterday he was patrolling the practices and he observed a high fidelity of mask-wearing on the sidelines and in one of the tryouts, he said he saw kids wearing masks.”
Monitoring will continue, says Smith, who adds that he hopes athletes and their families hear the message the school continues to reinforce: “We know what works, and our participants have to do the best they can to adhere to those mitigation strategies.”
The athletic metaphors apply to this situation for Smith as well. “I think everybody who’s playing knows there’s a lot at stake. If we have an outbreak, it’s going to disrupt a season. It will get in the way of our kids playing and performing. So everyone’s got skin in the game here in trying to keep each other and themselves safe.”
It’s a message he adds, that’s important not just for athletes but for everyone in the school (and wider) community to hear. “The message hasn’t changed. People need to continue to be vigilant and adhere to strategies, mask up and spread out and really be cognizant of their surroundings and just be safe.”
With spring break coming up at the end of this week, Smith wants students and their families to be cautious, and remember that the pandemic is not over, despite the relaxed guidelines.
“The governor, as you know, made the travel requirements ‘recommended’ rather than required. So we’re following the governor’s lead on this and we’re, again, relying on all of the members of the community to do the right thing. So if they’re traveling, they’ve got to be tested and quarantine and just follow the guidance,” Smith asked.