On first day back from spring break, Greenwich schools report 17 new COVID-19 cases

The Greenwich Board of Education Building in Greenwich, Conn., photographed on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.

The Greenwich Board of Education Building in Greenwich, Conn., photographed on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

GREENWICH — On the first day back from spring break for students and teachers, the Greenwich High community was notified of 13 new cases of COVID-19, the district said Tuesday.

Districtwide, there were 17 new cases reported from Friday to Tuesday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases since the start of school to 628 and continuing the trend of increased case counts in April.

According to a health alert sent by Superintendent of Schools Toni Jones and the district’s Head of Nursing Mary Keller, five seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and one freshman at GHS tested positive during spring recess. Of those impacted students, two were remote students. A special education teacher and a non-teaching staff member also tested positive.

Four additional students and six staff members are now in quarantine as a result, according to the alert.

“Our district has seen an increase in positive cases coming from outside-of-school, community spread, especially with athletics,” District Communications Director Sasha Houlihan said Tuesday. “As such, Dr. Jones has continued to reinforce the importance of following our mitigation strategies, especially wearing a mask, social distancing where possible, monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, etc.”

Before spring recess, which began April 12, the district was seeing its highest number of COVID-19 cases during the school year, with a large cluster at Greenwich High, in particular.

On the Thursday before break, 16 cases were confirmed at the district’s largest school, resulting in the quarantine of more than 100 staff and students. The boys and girls lacrosse teams and the baseball team were quarantined and missed the early part of their respective seasons as a result.

This year, the weeks immediately after a school break have been followed by upticks in the number of coronavirus cases reported in the school district. The Greenwich Education Association, the union representing Greenwich teachers, has often requested remote periods after breaks to allow for ample quarantine time before returning to in-person instruction in classrooms.

After the holiday recess, in January, Jones implemented a remote week of learning for all students. But she denied similar requests after the winter recess in February, and again this spring, saying that the strategy was not effective in slowing the spread of the virus.

Jones said recently that a remote period following spring break would only be implemented if large numbers of teachers were absent upon return from a break. Teacher absenteeism has stayed at normal levels, Jones said, and so no remote period was deemed necessary.

justin.papp@scni.com; @justinjpapp1; 203-842-2586

More Information

Schools affected:

Greenwich High - 13

Central Middle - 3

Eastern Middle - 2

Hamilton Avenue - 2

Glenville - 1

Western Middle - 1