Quarantines lead to extended remote learning at Jockey Hollow, Monroe Elementary

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MONROE, CT — Contact tracing following positive COVID-19 cases led to staffing problems at Monroe Elementary and Jockey Hollow Middle schools when people were directed to quarantine.

As a result, Acting Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza announced that Monroe Elementary School will remain closed in favor of full distance learning until the end of the week, and Jockey Hollow will do the same until the end of next week, Friday, Nov. 20.

Masuk High School, which also had a positive test on Tuesday, will reopen for classes Thursday, along with the STEM Academy that shares space in the building.

Kobza said staffing issues also come from teachers having to quarantine when a child or family member was exposed to someone who tested positive to COVID, sometimes from out-of-town, and when their child’s school closed to in-person learning due to positive tests.

“It’s creating pressure on us,” he said of the chain reaction.

On Tuesday, the district learned of three new cases at Monroe Elementary School, one, at Masuk, one at Jockey Hollow and of a district employee who tested positive, according to Kobza.

Kobza sent an email to students, staff and families on Wednesday.

“As you are aware, we continue to experience an increase in the number of positive COVID cases in Monroe,” he wrote. “Our experience to this point has shown very little evidence of person to person transmission in our school buildings. We take pride in knowing that this is the result of our students and staff adhering to the mitigation strategies that were outlined in our reopening plan.”

However, Kobza expressed concern over the increasing number of cases in town and Monroe’s public schools.

“We are in constant communication with the Monroe Health Department and all close contacts are being contacted by school or health officials,” he wrote in the email. “As mentioned in previous messages, all close contacts will be provided with instructions on the appropriate steps to take, including quarantine.”

“The health and safety of our students and faculty remain our top priority,” he continued. “While we are committed to providing as much in-person learning as possible, staffing is becoming a major issue.”

Though Kobza said very few staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, he added that many have been directed to quarantine as a result of contact tracing within and outside of our school system.

“This has left us with significant staffing needs that cannot be met in certain schools,” Kobza said. “As a result, we will be making changes to the following two schools.”

The acting superintendent went on to mention the extended remote learning for Monroe Elementary and Jockey Hollow.

“We continue to assess all of our schools in order to maintain a health, safe, and effective educational environment and we are prepared to make additional changes as needed,” Kobza said.

As it makes decisions amid the pandemic, Kobza said the school system will continue to work with the Connecticut Department of Education, Connecticut Department of Public Health, and its District Health Team, which includes a school medical advisor, Monroe Health Director Nancy Carol Brault, the town nurse and school nurse supervisor.

Kobza promised more updates in the coming days.

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