Winsted: positive COVID test forces sixth grade to distance learning

Winchester Public Schools seal
Winchester Public Schools seal

WINSTED — A positive COVID case at Pearson Middle School has forced sixth-grade classes to move to distance learning.
Winchester’s Superintendent of Schools Melony Brady-Shanley discussed the situation at the regular Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Brady-Shanley said that the grade will return to their regular learning plans, including in-person classes, right after the district’s Christmas break on January 4.
She said that several teachers will be teaching virtually from the classrooms in the school, while several teachers, who have been quarantined, will be teaching from their homes.
“We have done practice days with the teachers and we have given them lots of time through professional development to be able to get ready for this,” Brady-Shanley told the board. “Our families have done a tremendous job in notifying us and keeping us informed, including keeping their kids at home if they are symptomatic, or if their parents are symptomatic or sick.”
Brady-Shanley said that, due to the sixth-graders switch to distance learning, there are now more than 30 students who are taking part in distance learning.
“What I try to be cognizant of is that it is a lot harder for an elementary school to go distance learning,” Brady-Shanley said. “We are not talking about kids that can stay home at the high school level and not have parents there. When we close a school, it’s a serious decision not just for kids, but also for their families. We’re in a situation in Winsted where the vast majority of our families don’t have the opportunity to be able to work from home. We have to hold in-person learning when it is possible and when it’s safe, for the sheer fact that distance learning impacts our families.”
Brady-Shanley said that the district is not seeing any COVID spread from within the school system, but instead from household transmission.
“What we are seeing, and this has been the case in every single situation, is that we are seeing parents or family members that are in a household testing positive,” Brady-Shanley said. “In turn, they are not able to quarantine from children. Those children are getting it. What it all comes down to is people not social distancing and gathering together.”
In other business: Brady-Shanley said that Pearson will serve as the town’s free public wi-fi spot.
She said that the town is setting up the wi-fi spot in partnership with the state and will be up and running by late February.
“For the next five years, Pearson will be set up for free wi-fi,” Brady-Shanley said. “If a community member would happen to need free wi-fi, they can tap right into that.”
She said that the coverage area will be the main parking lot in front of Pearson, along with the field next to Pearson and its playground area.

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