Darien High goes full remote Tuesday as COVID cases climb

Darien is now at

Darien is now at "orange" level as per the state's COVID-19 map, meaning 10-14 cases per 100,000 people.

State of Connecticut's tracker / Contributed graphic

DARIEN — All high school students remained home Tuesday, one day after four new COVID cases were reported there.

Schools Superintendent Alan Addley notified parents early Tuesday about the switch to remote learning. An email at about 8:20 a.m., Addley told the school community that late this morning, the COVID-19 Response Team was notified about a positive COVID-19 case at the high school.

“It was clear it would be impossible to complete contract tracing. The high school was closed in abundance of caution and to allow contract tracing to be completed throughout the remainder of the day,” Addley said.

Addley acknowledged the notice to go remote was late, but “the safety of our students and staff is always our highest priority.”

“Under the circumstances, it was the most prudent and safest action. An update will be provided later in the day upon the completion of contract tracing,” he said. Addley added that all high school after school activities and athletics are cancelled.

Four new cases were reported Monday among high school community members.

As of Tuesday morning, 23 members of the Darien school community, with nine locations impacted, have tested positive for COVID-19, with 340 in quarantine, according to the district’s dashboard.

According to the town’s COVID-19 info page, 19 cases have been reported by the state since Oct. 29.

In a letter to the school community Sunday night, Addley and Director of Nursing Alicia Casucci said the school district had another five confirmed and one presumed case reported over the weekend. Two cases were at Darien High School, two at Middlesex Middle School and one case at Holmes School. The presumed case was at Royle School.

All affected individuals have been instructed to remain home in self-isolation for 10 days and have been provided with additional instructions to follow prior to returning to school. Family members have also been instructed to self-quarantine and get tested.

For the cases at Darien High, the last day the first case was in school was Nov. 2. The last day the second case was present at school was Nov. 6. After contact tracing was completed, 18 individuals are quarantining for 14 days.

For Middlesex, the last day the first case was present at school was Nov. 5. The last day the second case was present at school was Nov. 6 . After contact tracing was completed, 49 individuals are quarantining for 14 days.

A class at Royle School will move to remote learning based on the advice of medical advisory staff for a presumed positive case. This request affects 20 individuals.

Darien High, Middlesex, Holmes and Royle opened as normal for in-person learning on Monday. This follows the notification on Friday of two cases reported at Darien High and two reported on Saturday.

The email also noted that the “frequency and increase of COVID cases is concerning.”

“The safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority. In consultation with our medical advisors, the district continues to assess the appropriate learning model in consideration of state and local guidelines. Should it be necessary, the district stands ready to transition to hybrid or remote learning,” the statement said.

Last Thursday, Darien officials, including Addley, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, Director of Health David Knauf, and Board of Education Chairman Tara Ochman, issued a joint release warning Darien residents of the risks and asking all to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

Darien is at the “orange” level in the state color map for COVID-19 rates, which means 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 residents. Most of the towns in Fairfield County are orange, with Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury, Bethel and Bridgeport in the red zone at 15 or more cases per 100,000.

The total cases reported in Connecticut as of Monday is 78,125, up 1,065. Total COVID-19 associated deaths are at 4,671, up 15.

On Monday, it was reported the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech prevented more than 90 percent of infections in a study of tens of thousands of volunteers, the most encouraging scientific advance so far in the battle against the coronavirus.

The Board of Education will have its first post-election meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday virtually in the Board of Education meeting room, welcoming its new board member, Sara Parent.

Members of the community wishing to view only, should do so through the Darien YouTube link.

Members of the community wishing to participate in public comment should join the meeting via Zoom.