January 5, 2022

Dear Families,

The purpose of this letter is to provide you with an update on the home test kits that the district received as well as to review the Remote Learning Memorandum issued by the Connecticut Department of Education. (CSDE)

Rapid Home Test Kits

The district has received our allotment of rapid home test kits provided by the CSDE and the State Department of Public Health.

CSDE has stated that these tests are to be used to address the following needs:

  • If a child or staff person exhibits symptoms and needs to be screened for COVID-19;
  • If a child or staff member has a direct exposure to an individual with COVID-19; and ∙
  • If a class or program is experiencing multiple cases of COVID-19, a school may consider distributing tests to all students in that classroom if they have difficulty accessing tests.

These kits are to further protect our children and staff. They are located in the nurses’ office and will be distributed by the nurses according to the above protocols. It is important to note that nurses do not administer the tests. Parents/guardians who receive a test under the above guidelines should administer the test to determine if a child is negative before returning to school. There are instructions within the kit.

We have a limited number of tests and, at this time, are uncertain if we will receive additional kits from the state. The district received 1,080 kits (2 tests per kit) for children and 288 kits (1 test per kit) for staff. Students or staff who have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days will not be prioritized for test distribution. The tests are not to be used on adults/family members of the school-aged child.  If your child tests positive, it is essential that you report the positive test result to your school nurse.  Children with negative test results who have no symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19 should return to in-person learning.

Remote Learning Memorandum

There have been questions from both parents and staff as to why the district does not move to remote learning.  The following is a summary regarding the recent memorandum that the CSDE issued regarding remote learning.

On December 31, 2021, the CSDE issued the Remote Learning Memorandum updating guidance to school districts regarding the use of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Remote Learning Memorandum reiterates that remote learning “is generally not permitted during the 2021-22 school year on a district-wide, school-wide, or individual student basis,” and outlines four “limited circumstances” in which school districts may offer remote learning as an official school day.

Four Limited Circumstances

  1. due to isolation or quarantine of individual students due to COVID-19 infection or close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case;
  2. in “rare and individualized circumstances” for a student with live-in family members who have unusual vulnerability to COVID-19;
  3. in the “rare” case in which a student’s Individualized Education Program recommends instruction in the home as the least restrictive environment for the student; or
  4. “should there be an order issued at some point during the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year that requires school or district closures pursuant to an emergency declaration,” provided that such declaration may only be issued pursuant to the authority of the legislature or Governor Lamont.

In light of the significant academic, social and emotional benefits of in-person school, any parent seeking continued educational opportunities based on consideration 2 listed above must follow a specific process which includes the appropriate treating physician completing a medical health exemption form. The district nursing supervisor will consult with such treating physician to determine what mitigating measures or other considerations, if any, would allow the student to receive in-person instruction.  Parents requesting this accommodation should contact Tracy Edwards, Director of PPS at tracyedwards@westonps.org.

The Remote Learning Memorandum emphasizes that local health districts do not possess the authority to issue emergency declarations under (4) above.  Further, the Remote Learning Memorandum no longer refers to remote learning to address localized outbreaks in a specific classroom, school, or district.  The Remote Learning Memorandum requires that decisions regarding isolation, quarantine, and remote instruction (the limited circumstances described above) must be based on CSDE guidance, with input from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Remote Learning Memorandum clarifies that districts are permitted to close one or more schools if necessary due to issues such as pandemic-related staffing shortages.  However, days on which school is closed for reasons unrelated to the four limited circumstances described above must be made up in order to satisfy the 180-school day requirement.

This is also a reminder that the aim for remote learning is for students to stay current with content and assignments to the extent possible: they may not be able to fully participate in class activities. Students will make up assessments upon their return to school. There will be no remote administration of assessments.

In conclusion, I would like to remind families of the upcoming vaccination clinic for ages 5-11 on January 11 and February 2; click here to pre-register.  We have had inquiries regarding booster clinics. As of today, none are scheduled. We have reached out to our testing partner to see the possibility of offering a clinic in the near future.

Thank you for your continued support to keep our children, families, and district staff safe.

Sincerely,

Lisa Wolak

Superintendent of Schools