Positive COVID tests close Masuk, Jockey Hollow, Monroe Elementary schools

Masuk High School is located at 1014 Monroe Turnpike.

MONROE, CT — Masuk, Jockey Hollow and Monroe Elementary schools will be closed Wednesday to allow time for contact tracing after several members of the school community tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday.

Acting Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza said Masuk learned of a positive test late in the afternoon, then Jockey Hollow and Monroe Elementary schools reported positive tests later that evening.

“We have a lot of work to do with contact tracing to determine who all the close contacts could be,” he said, adding administrators want to err on the side of caution.

All students at Masuk, Jockey Hollow, Monroe Elementary School and in the STEM program will be taught via remote learning Wednesday, with the hope of reopening the buildings for classes again on Thursday, according to Kobza.

He said administrators will coordinate with the Monroe Health Department, while doing the contact tracing.

On Tuesday night, Kobza sent emails and SchoolMessenger phone calls to all of the school families in town.

Monroe recently reached red alert status for COVID-19 cases on the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s map, the highest alert. DPH also has health guidelines for school districts to follow during the pandemic.

Kobza is relying on all of this information throughout the pandemic, to decide whether to stay with the hybrid approach, a mix of in-person and remote learning, or to go completely remote.

“We’re looking at those town metrics, along with what’s happening in our schools,” Kobza said. “We’re trying to take a wholistic view of the whole thing. Right now, we’re taking it day-by-day and I’m in constant contact with our health department, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and our district health team.”

One of Kobza’s concerns is being able to properly staff Monroe’s schools to keep them open. “We have staff out for a number of reasons,” he said.

He said some staff members are close contacts of those who tested positive, some have children of their own who have to stay home because their school was shutdown, and others have a family member who is COVID positive.

“We have been fortunate so far,” Kobza said. “We haven’t seen transmission spread through the schools. We’ve had isolated cases, but they haven’t led to other cases, though that could change.”

Kobza expressed his hope that the new cases will be isolated as well. He said the district continues to monitor the situation with the town health department and its school nurse advisor.

The acting superintendent said educators knew there would be positive cases at times during the year, before embarking on the hybrid learning model.

“It’s going as well as it can go and that’s a complete credit to the outstanding staff in Monroe,” Kobza said. “They have shown tremendous resilience, working through adversity all year. They’re unselfish and constantly think of kids first.”

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