WESTPORT — Coleytown Middle School could finally re-open for students by the end of the year.

The school has been closed since 2018 due to mold problems, but may finally have its doors re-opened by mid-December.

“At this point right now we’re looking at Nov. 20 as being the date that the building committee would hand the building over to the board,” Superintendent Thomas Scarice said at a Board of Education meeting Monday.

He said an appropriate transition and orientation will be necessary following this for two-thirds of Coleytown’s students and new staff to get acclimated.

“So we’re looking at that time period there for the operational and logistical tasks,” Scarice said.

He said they’re tentatively planning the week of Dec. 7 as a transition week for orientation and to allow equipment to be taken from Bedford Middle School, where students currently attend, to Coleytown. Full instruction would start on the week of Dec. 14.

The reopening will come at a crucial time as coronavirus cases start to rise across the state.

Suzanne Levasseur, district supervisor of health services, said this past week the state’s infection rate rose from 6.8 to 7.9 cases per a population of 100,000, with Fairfield County increasing from 5.4 to 6.4, and Westport from 3 to 3.3.

“I think the take home point is these numbers continue to remain low overall, especially in our little section, but they continue to rise,” Levasseur said.

She said the town was seeing one or two confirmed cases a week at one point over the summer, but they have since ticked up with 13 being reported in the past week.

“We do have more students and staff on quarantine and I think that’s a direct result of the increase of cases in our community,” Levasseur said.

Scarice said the transition at Coley will be important due to two-thirds of the students — namely sixth and seventh graders — having never set foot in the school before.

“To parachute in and start school day one is probably not in their best interest,” he said. “What the orientation looks like I defer to the building principal — she knows her staff, she knows her students.”

Coleytown principal Kris Szabo said Coley students in their cohorts would be bused over from Bedford on Dec. 7 and 8 for a student orientation.

“Sixth, seventh and eighth grade would be orientated to the building with our staff,” she said.

Teachers would work on packing, unpacking or transition between their classrooms on Dec. 9, she said.

“Many classrooms are shared across teams so that teachers are sharing spaces and sharing equipment,” Szabo said, adding the day will be necessary for teachers to separate out their materials.

She said kids in both cohorts will engage in remote learning on Dec. 10 and 11 while materials are being transferred between schools and to allow teachers time in the school. Dec. 14 and 15 would be the first day of schools for the first cohort of students and second cohort respectively.

“One of the pieces that (BMS principal) Adam and I have been talking about with Tom as well as with our staff is that this is going to be like a brand new school year,” Szabo said. “All teachers are getting new schedules, the students are getting new schedules.”

She said having the reopening a week prior to winter recess will give the district time to work out any kinks if need be.

“We’re working to have our community understand that there might be a few little bumps in the road and to be forgiving of that knowing that our biggest goal is to get in safely and as soon as we can,” Szabo said.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com