New Fairfield to begin return to in-person schooling next week

Photo of Kendra Baker
New Fairfield Superintendent Pat Cosentino.

New Fairfield Superintendent Pat Cosentino.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW FAIRFIELD — Following a districtwide shift to remote learning, some students in town will return to in-person classes next week, while others will follow a hybrid schedule for a while.

In a Tuesday evening letter to families, Superintendent Pat Cosentino announced the school district’s plans to begin the return to in-person classes.

Preschool through fifth-grade students will attend school in person full-time beginning Monday, she said, while grades 6-12 will follow a hybrid schedule through Dec. 23.

The hybrid schedule will consist of cohorts of students alternating in-person schooling on Wednesdays, according to Cosentino’s letter.

Before Thanksgiving break, the school district decided to halt in-person classes at all grade levels through Dec. 7, due to a spike in coronavirus cases, as well as staffing problems.

Quarantining of teachers and staff had left a “gap” in New Fairfield’s schools that administrators and teachers were left to fill, Cosentino said during the Board of Education’s Nov. 19 meeting.

Cosentino said teachers and administrators had been “plugging in holes” caused by the absence of quarantined staff, but it had gotten to the point where it became “a little unsafe” and “too difficult.”

“When you add that to the issue of high COVID numbers in Fairfield County and in New Fairfield, we really felt that it just made best sense to try and flatten the curve,” she said.

Cosentino said parents who wish to have their children remainn on remote learning through the New Year should contact the nurse or principal at their child’s school and their request will be accommodated.

Families can expect “more detailed information” from principals on the schools’ plans to return to in-person classes in the coming days, Cosentino said.

With 13 days between Dec. 7 and the winter holiday break, Cosentino said it’s important that everyone “remain vigilant” at home and in the community so in-person classes can resume.

“I am confident if we all remain focused on mitigation strategies of maintaining physical distance, washing hands and wearing masks we will remain safe and be able to keep our school buildings open,” she said.

Last month, Cosentino said administrators planned to meet after Thanksgiving break to “tighten up” COVID-related protocols.

“I think we’ve been, in an abundance of caution, maybe quarantining maybe a little bit too much, so I think we’re going to try to tighten that up a little bit so that when we do have students or staff who have to be quarantined, we won’t have such a big hit,” she said during the school board’s Nov. 14 meeting.

It is unclear whether any changes have been made. Cosentino could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.