Weston school board asks community to help keep schools open

The Weston Board of Education discussed reopening schools at its monthly meeting on Tuesday. Taken Sept. 22, 2020.

The Weston Board of Education discussed reopening schools at its monthly meeting on Tuesday. Taken Sept. 22, 2020.

DJ Simmons/Hearst Connecticut Media

WESTON — Following a district-wide pivot to temporary remote learning, the Board of Education expressed disappointment in some members of the community who apparently have not been adhering to town policy on COVID-19.

The district moved to remote learning for Monday and Tuesday after administration discovered there was a positive case of the virus at Weston High School and its connection to another case at Hurlbutt Elementary School.

“We definitely knew it was connected and we thought it was connected with various people,” Superintendent William Mckersie said at a Board of Education meeting Tuesday. “That said to us we could potentially have significant spread throughout the entire district.”

But BOE members said a discussion on community responsibility was also needed because the incident allegedly was caused by choices made by people outside of the school, they said.

“At some point there has to be a conversation, again, about the expectations of the members of our community,” Gina Albert, a BOE member, said. “Rather it’s staff, students, other family members of our students so that we don’t have staff and students impacted by irresponsible and ignorant decisions.”

BOE Chair Tony Pesco said the incident involved a “very disturbing set of facts.” He said it also illustrated the consequences of not adhering to the town’s policies regarding COVID-19.

“If this goes on, we’ll be shutting down schools every week,” he said. “We can’t emphasize how important the community involvement and community responsibility and parent responsibility is in making sure that we keep everyone safe and the schools open.”

Mckersie said the possible connection between the two cases came after the health department contacted one of the families. He said he’s also faced resistance while working with some families on quarantining.

“None of us created COVID-19, none of us want it, all of us are figuring out how to operate here,” Mckersie said, adding mask wearing, social distancing and abiding by quarantine recommendations was key.

But some students expressed disappointment of being quarantined strictly because of their seat placement in a classroom, according to Albert.

“That’s just really unfortunate that, again, irresponsible and ignorant behavior is causing this type of impact on the education system,” she said. “I respectfully request that we try to look again at the placement of the seats in the classroom to make sure we can meet that six foot criteria when possible.”

BOE members also questioned the timeline on shifting from the district’s current hybrid, early dismissal model.

Mckersie said administration is still reviewing the district’s opening to look at a potential shift to a full day hybrid model. He said logistics, scheduling at the elementary level and more needed to be reviewed before there’s a change.

“Even if right now we moved tomorrow into full day hybrid, there’s some pieces we need to get better at,” he said.