Greenwich schools report two new cases of COVID-19 as vaccinations begin for young children

Eastern Middle School in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Conn., photographed on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.

Eastern Middle School in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Conn., photographed on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.

File / Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

GREENWICH — A day after Greenwich Hospital began offering vaccines for 5- to 11-year-old children, the Greenwich Public Schools reported just two new cases of COVID-19 in its community, according to the Friday update on the district’s online tracker.

That brings the total number of COVID-19 cases to 90 since classes began Sept. 1, according to the tracker.

There are currently four active cases of COVID-19 in the school district, with two cases at Eastern Middle and one each at Julian Curtiss and Parkway, according to the tracker. All four cases are among students, with three cases attributed to family or outside activity and one due to undetermined origin, according to the district.

The school district updates its online tracker every Tuesday and Friday, and the reports of new cases have consistently remained in the single digits since Sept. 28.

On Tuesday, the school district reported just one new case, and it reported two new cases last Friday, which followed five cases reported on Oct. 26 and four cases reported on Oct. 22, according to the online tracker.

For the 2020-21 school year, a total of 697 cases of COVID-19 have been reported districtwide.

The low numbers come as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave final approval Tuesday for children ages 5 to 11 to get size-appropriate doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

In town, Greenwich Hospital began offering the COVID-19 vaccinations on Thursday to young children who had previously not been eligible. The new policy means that many elementary school age students now have the opportunity to get vaccinated.

Appointments, which are required for the children’s vaccines, can be made by calling 833-275-9644 or visiting www.ynhhs.org/covidvaccin e.

“We encourage families to get their children vaccinated at either their pediatrician’s office or at one of our sites,” said Cynthia Sparer, executive director of Women’s and Children’s Services for Yale New Haven Health Servies, which includes Greenwich Hospital.

Yale New Haven Health also will be distributing Pfizer doses to pediatricians’ offices around the state, spokesman Mark D’Antonio said.

The state Department of Health “has partnered in devising a distribution plan that allows providers to have access to smaller quantities of vaccine, which in turn allows them to administer COVID vaccines to their patients,” D’Antonio said.

The town of Greenwich will not hold vaccination clinics for young children, Town Director of Health Caroline Baisley said.

“The state said that this age group would be best served through community pediatricians and medical facilities and pharmacies rather than at open public health clinics,” she said.

Also Thursday, the state launched an optional new program called “screen and stay” that would prevent quarantines for some COVID-19-exposed students by providing the option to be evaluated instead of staying home for days.

Eligibility for “screen and stay,” instead of quarantine is limited to exposure in school, on school transportation or outside under school supervision, officials said, and the student must be asymptomatic.

“What this says now is if there’s an exposure in the classroom, we will notify your parents, we will notify somebody at home and then we ask you: ‘Look, if you are showing symptoms, if you are showing COVID/flu-like symptoms ... don’t come into the class because there’s a risk you are exposed and could be spreading it.’ Otherwise, this allows you to stay in the classroom,” Gov. Ned Lamont said.

The state’s mask mandate remains in place for all people in public and private schools across Connecticut.

Statewide as of Nov. 4, Connecticut’s school submission summary of COVID-19 reported 487 cases of COVID-19 among students, teachers and staff in public and private schools during the week of Oct. 28 through Nov. 3.

That is up slightly from the 483 cases reported during the week of Oct. 21 through Oct. 27. A total of 550 cases were reported during the week of Oct. 14 through Oct. 20. The state updates its schools COVID-19 data every Thursday.

Prior reporting from staff writers Ken Borsuk and Nicholas Rondinone is included in this story.