With 16 COVID Cases and 133 in Quarantine, Wilton Public Schools Release New Dashboard

Wednesday afternoon, Wilton Public Schools superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith had planned to send an email to the school community about a new tool the district had created, the WPS COVID Dashboard to monitor the number of COVID-positive cases and people quarantined in the district. While he was writing the email he learned of two new positive cases–one at Cider Mill School and one at Middlebrook School.

In the email he eventually did send Wednesday, Smith also wrote that previously released total numbers didn’t include an additional six COVID-positive cases at Middlebrook. All told, the case count for the district now includes 16 COVID-positive cases (four staff, 12 students) and 133 people in quarantine due to close contact (19 staff, 114 students).

With numbers rising, Smith has said that for the time being he’s put on hold any planned move of Middlebrook to a four-day in-person model, like Cider Mill and Miller-Driscoll Schools have made; plans for Wilton High School have not yet been discussed publicly.

But it begs the question, just what is the number of positive cases or possible exposures before the district would transition to an all-remote model?

Smith told GOOD Morning Wilton that he’s keeping an eye on rising case numbers not just in the district, but also in Wilton and across the state, and he continues to consult with WPS health advisors.

“We’d been all in for nearly a month and had been in good shape until last Tues. We’re definitely watching. We’re paying attention to community spread and spread in the schools. If we keep having cases and requiring individuals to quarantine, we may find ourselves in a situation where we don’t have enough adults to staff the schools. We’re seeing this scenario play out in communities across the region,” he said.

The dashboard will be updated on a weekly basis, every Wednesday by 5 p.m. The district will continue to send letters to families and staff members when new cases occur if numbers change.

Smith explained why the six Middlebrook cases weren’t included in communication to the community on Monday, Nov. 9. The information wasn’t communicated internally between “stakeholders.”

“These cases did not appear on our chart due to when and how our central office team was alerted to the information relative to our buildings and/or the Wilton Health Department. As you might imagine, when any member of our staff or town health department is alerted to a new case, the focus is on immediate containment of infected or exposed individuals, which may cause a slight delay in reporting to all stakeholders,” he said, noting that protocols for containment were followed even though the numbers weren’t on the chart.

Those containment measures–self-isolation for anyone positive and quarantine periods for anyone exposed–are preventing transmission in the schools, Smith said. Where officials believe the spread is happening is through outside athletic activities or at home.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said the same thing in an update to Wilton residents about the most recent cases reported to the town.

“The ages of those received ranged from 11 to 94. They included an additional exposure through a moderate risk sport held indoors, without a mask and outside of Wilton and exposure at a Wilton assisted living facility.”

Both Vanderslice and Smith reiterated what self-isolation for a COVID-positive individual means: isolated in the home, away from other family members, for a minimum of 10 days from the date of the COVID positive test. Ther other household members should quarantine and monitor for symptoms.

They also said that every positive case involving a member of the school community should be reported to both the town and the school. Smith sent a diagram explaining who needs to be contacted, reiterating that it should be all three:  the school’s principal, the school nurse, and Wilton Health Director Barry Bogle.