Oxford cancels high school classes, middle school dedication after athlete tests COVID-positive
OXFORD — The high school is closed until November and the new middle school dedication is off indefinitely after a high school athlete tested positive for COVID-19.
The town planned to conduct tours and a ceremony showing off its new state-of-the-art $41 million middle school Saturday. The school opened for classes in September.
“Out of caution and concern to those planning to attend, we canceled the event,” said First Selectman George Temple. “Emails were sent out Friday.”
However, several people, including Jack Kiley, the chairman of the town’s finance board, were unaware of the cancellation and showed up at the middle school. Several wandered over to a soccer game being played on the field.
Superintendent of Schools Jason McKinnon said contact tracing identified 50 students and 10 teachers having “primary contact” with the infected athlete.
“We have determined that we cannot hold in-person classes during the 14-day quarantine period because we do not have sufficient staff or substitute teachers to cover the quarantined faculty members,” McKinnon said.
Only the high school is affected at this time. The elementary and middle school will continue with their classes as normal.
McKinnon said the high school is going on full remote learning until Nov. 4 and undergoing a deep cleaning. McKinnon said his staff is working on an updated remote learning schedule that will take place during this time and be released over this weekend.
He warned that this remote schedule will be “longer and more rigorous than the spring semester.”
Plans are for remote school to begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.
“Core academic classes will be approximately 50 minutes in length and the school will identify its advisory, lunch and flexible periods,” McKinnon said
He said teachers “will be available before and after” the school day for students needing extra help and office hours.
He said there will be a 7 p.m. high school meeting Sunday to discuss the new learning model.
For now student activities and athletics except for the infected individual’s team are planned to resume Monday, the superintendent said. He explained that the contact tracing done by Jodi Zaleha, the school system’s lead nurse, in consultation with the Pomperaug Health District, “enables us to make this decision with confidence.
Students and teachers who were determined to be in primary contact with the infected student have been notified.
He said those who have not been notified “are not considered a primary contact.” McKinnon also said the Pomperaug Health District will be contacting those individuals who may have had contact with the infected student outside of school or school events.