Westport town, school officials taking extra precautions amid coronavirus

WESTPORT — Amid coronavirus concerns, First Selectman Jim Marpe on Monday strongly encouraged residents to rethink large gatherings of more than 100 persons, adding people should follow Gov. Ned Lamont’s warning to avoid places where people are shoulder-to-shoulder as well.

“While the directive is neither a mandate, nor a declaration of a state of emergency, the governor’s message was clear that the state needs to implement policies that discourage the spread of the virus,” Marpe said in a news release.

Marpe is working alongside Interim Superintendent of Schools David Abbey on plans to address the recommendations on a local basis.

“We recognize that this will impact a number of recurring or long-planned and important activities, but we ask organizers and attendees to give appropriate consideration to the Governor’s request,” Marpe said.

He said town functions are operating as normal for the time being, but with extra attention being given to cleanliness and disinfection of facilities and equipment.

Town hall staff are preparing to offer some public services on a remote basis if necessary, Marpe said, while the Westport Center for Senior Activities is also prepping to operate as a drop-in-center in case programs are canceled.

“Conducting public meetings may become challenging, but much of this will have to be determined based on a case-by-case basis,” Marpe said.

Similarly, Westport schools are taking additional preparations.

“Starting today, we will be sending Chromebooks home with students in grades 3-5,” said Anthony Buono, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, in an email to parents on Monday. “This is part of the District’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) strategic planning.”

Buono said having the Chromebooks available for students will assist the district in the event there is a prolonged school closing.

A Chromebook will be checked out to each student, who will be asked to bring the device to and from school each day. Students can also use a home device if their family prefers to, Buono said.

Students will be asked to follow the Acceptable Use Policy, Buono said, and the district reserves the right to monitor use to ensure compliance with the policy, the email read.

More Information

To visit the town webpage dedicated to COVID-19, residents can visit westportct.gov/COVID-19. The hashtag #WestportctCOVID-19info will allso be used for updated information on the town's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter social media accounts. This will also be utilized by the Fire, Police and Parks departments.