Report by Paula Antolini, August 27, 2021, 4:59PM EDT
Message from Dr. Christine Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools:
We are so excited about the start of the school year next Monday, August 30th! The buildings
look phenomenal. I would like to extend a huge “thank you” to all of our custodians who work
tirelessly over the summer to ensure that our children’s environment is conducive to learning.
Please be sure to thank them for their hard work and let them know how much you appreciate
As many of you know, Fairfield County and the State of Connecticut is seeing an increase in COVID
cases due to the Delta variant. What made us successful last year in minimizing exposures in
school was adherence to the following:
• Keep your child home if they have and COVID symptoms.
• If you have a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID, keep your
child home and call your school nurse.
• If your child is exposed in the community or identified as a Direct Contact and
unvaccinated, keep your child home and call your school nurse.
I have received a couple of emails from parents asking how students will be supported if the district
places them on quarantine. With the changes in requirements for a direct contact, we expect
fewer students to have to quarantine this year. In addition, by the time we learned of an exposure,
the timeline for quarantine was often almost over. Quarantined students will be considered in
attendance if they complete all academic assignments and check in with scheduled adult
support. This does not apply to any other circumstance. If a child is in quarantine frequently, we
will reevaluate the support provided. Please note, a vaccinated student will not have to
quarantine unless symptomatic.
Even though we are not offering remote learning, we want to provide your child academic support if they are asked to quarantine as a direct contact. In general, all assignments will continue to be stored in the teacher’s Google Classroom. If we send a student home as a direct contact or they are a direct contact from an event outside of school, we will ensure that they take home the necessary materials to complete those assignments or have materials for parent pick up. Students will be able to access those assignments through Google Classroom. At the elementary level, we will be offering “live” support in the form of a teacher, tutor, paraeducator, and/or other staff member to check in with the student (individually or small group) two times during the day on Google Meets (replaces Zoom). At the secondary level it will be one time per day. The times for the live check-in will be communicated at the time of quarantine. Students who qualify for special education, intervention, and/or English Language services will receive individual communication regarding the services and supports the student will receive. We will revisit our levels of support if we see multiple quarantines or larger amounts of students placed in quarantine.
At a recent Board of Education meeting, parents asked me to provide the following answers to questions regarding required mitigation measures for COVID -19. As I am not a public health expert, I reached out to the Bethel Health Department, Connecticut Department of Public Health, and our School Medical Advisor for answers to the questions posed:
Question 1: Antibody Testing – If I had COVID-19, why do I need to be quarantined if exposed? Shouldn’t I follow mitigation strategies the same as an individual who is vaccinated?
Department of Public Health response:
• There is a lower risk of COVID illness in vaccinated individuals.
• CDC does not recommend using the results of an antibody test to determine the need for COVID-19 vaccination.
• Even if someone has had COVID-19 they should still be offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
• In addition, at least one recent study indicates that COVID-19 vaccination provides better protection from reinfection
than COVID-19 infection alone.
• CDC recommends 90 days for a period of immunity after COVID illness.
Question 2: Mask Research & Information – What is the research on the effectiveness of masks in prevention of transmission of COVID-19?
The Connecticut Department of Public Health provided the following information/research:
• See CDC Science Briefs
• Science Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2
• Mask & Face Covering for the Public – CDC & IDSA
• EPA Researchers Test Effectiveness of Face Masks, Disinfection Methods Against COVID-19
• It is Time to Put Your Mask On – Yale Medicine
• How well do face masks protect against the Coronavirus? The Mayo Clinic
• Still Confused About Masks? Here’s the Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus – University of
California, San Francisco
• Yale School of Public Health
Our School Medical Advisor provided the following information/research:
• Decline in COVID-19 Hospitalization Growth Rates Associated with Statewide Mask Mandates — 10 States, March–
• Face Masks: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
• The role of facemasks and hand hygiene in the prevention of influenza transmission in households: results from a
cluster randomized trial; Berlin, Germany, 2009-2011 – PubMed
• Do face masks make you retain carbon dioxide? | University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
• Effectiveness of Mask Wearing to Control Community Spread of SARS-CoV-2 | Infectious Diseases | JAMA | JAMA
• How effective is a mask in preventing COVID‐19 infection?
• Efficacy of face mask in preventing respiratory virus transmission: A systematic review and meta-analysis
• Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and
COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis – The Lancet
Question 3: What influence does the schools have on formulation of public health policy?
The Connecticut State Board of Education and Department of Public Health receive public health policy requirements and guidance from the federal level. See public policy guidance at this link. The Governor together with state agencies also develop policies that are required of the local jurisdictions for implementation. The school indoor mask use requirements are based on the CT Commissioner of Public Health directive and The Governor’s Executive Order 13A. Our Nurse Health Coordinator, local Director of Health, and I participate in weekly phone calls with the CT Department of Public Health and the Connecticut State Department of Education. We are able to ask questions and provide input on mitigation strategies. In addition, serving on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents has provided me with access to increased input. We provide the Governor and state agencies with local stakeholder comments and opinions. COVID is a highly infectious respiratory illness that has shown that it can result in adverse health outcomes and mortality. Layered mitigation is being used to promote health and safety and keep the schools open and operating in a routine manner as best possible. Additional guidance on who sets public health policy can be found at this link.
I hope you find this information helpful. If you have any questions about public health policy or COVID, please email our local Director of Health at email@example.com.
We would like to welcome our new teachers to the Bethel Public Schools. Our Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Brooks and our Director of Teaching and Learning, Michelle Rutledge have completed their orientation process. The Bethel Public Schools has a very rigorous selection process. We are excited by their level of energy and skills that they bring to the job.
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We look forward to the start of the school year.
Reminder – Monday, August 30th– First Day of School is a FULL DAY
Click here for the 2021-2022 School Times Schedule (or view below):