Winchester Superintendent Brady-Shanley: ‘Our strategies are working’

Winchester Public Schools seal
Winchester Public Schools seal

WINSTED — Despite the challenges of this school semester due to the COVID pandemic, Winchester Superintendent of Schools Melony Brady-Shanley said that the school district was pressing forward at a community conversation meeting on Monday, Nov. 9.
The meeting was held on Zoom with more than 80 community members attending.
As of November 10, four cases have been identified in the school district during this semester.
“Everything that I share right now is subject to change,” Brady-Shanley said at the beginning of the meeting. “In this business right now, we find things change from moment to moment.”
Brady-Shanley said that the district has an “ever-shrinking population” of students who are distance learning.
She said that 13 percent of the student population is currently in distance learning and the remaining part of the population is in-school learning.
“The students have been doing a great job so far,” Brady-Shanley said. “A couple of weeks ago we had to close the schools for a couple of days. We also had a couple of close direct contacts within the district. Those are the things superintendents in districts are seeing across the state right now.”
Brady-Shanley said that schools across the state have not seen in school transmissions of COVID.
“What that tells us is that the efforts that we are making in terms of using PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], wearing our masks, being as socially distant as much as possible, taking appropriate breaks throughout the day, we know that those strategies are working,” Brady-Shanley said. “We are not seeing [students] sitting next to someone in a class and getting COVID. All of the students that we have had that have been direct contacts [of a case], we have yet to have anybody from that pool of students become positive due to a situation in school.”
However, Brady-Shanley said that what she is seeing is cases that are happening outside of the school system and within the Winsted community.
“For example, when people have a party on the weekend and there are various individuals there, someone ends up being positive and cases are spread there,” she said. “If we want to preserve in-person education, then we have to follow the rules. We cannot break the rules and keep exposing one another. That’s what shuts school districts down. Now is not the time to go and hang out at your friend’s house, or have a birthday party. We have a tough time coming up because we have the holiday season coming up. I ask people to adhere to what the state’s travel advisories are and what the directions are when it comes to large holiday gatherings. Those are the type of experiences that can impact us.”
Brady-Shanley said that she has heard from multiple parents asking her not to close down the school district and go to distance learning for all students.
“They all tell me that their kids need to be in school,” she said. “We see that every day as educators the importance of being in school and what that does for children. When we have such a large population right now when it comes to in-person learning, it tells us that this community has a desire to keep our schools open.”

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