Thus far, no cases: “a very successful opening”

File:Face Masks used to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in hospitals.jpg  - Wikimedia Commons

The prominent green and gold sign was the only notable addition to the Hamden High School entrance. It was not the additions to campus, however, that drew attention.

Hamden district schools officially opened on Tuesday, September 15. Students were given the option to either attend school on set days of the week or opt out of in-person classes and participate via Zoom. 

At the end of the school day on Thursday, September 17, there was little sign of the usual noon traffic jam. Around 1:05pm, approximately fifty students left the building in an orderly manner and climbed into the handful of cars and buses lined up to take them home. A few students walked past the parking lot without taking their masks off, assumedly headed for home without stopping by Starbucks. 

Whereas Covid-era changes to campus have dampened the usual vibrancy of HHS hallways and the energy of the dismissal bell, these public health measures are a welcome sight in a time when health safety is paramount. 

Positive cases at schools across Connecticut provide a grim reminder of the importance of such measures. Last week, West Haven High School cancelled in-person classes on the 14th and 15th due to “positive cases in the school community,” according to a September 10 letter from West Haven Board of Education Superintendent Neil Cavallaro. Last Friday, Amity Regional High School reported a positive case and is currently monitoring the situation. 

Since two teachers tested positive for the coronavirus before the start of the semester on August 21, Hamden High School has not reported any cases.* “There have been, and will continue to be, cases reported throughout our school community, and those concerns will always be followed up immediately,” said Jody Goeler, Superintendent of Hamden Public Schools in a letter on Sunday. “Be assured that the District will notify you if there is a positive case in your child’s school.”

As students filed out of the school last Thursday, a few staff members and cross guards stood by—assumedly to ensure social distancing and mask wearing. Teachers remained inside with their masks on. 

A few students walked side-by-side or stood close to each other once out of the school vicinity, but very few took their masks off. 

School buses carried six students at most, and students sat apart from each other without taking off their masks. Some buses carried one student. Each driver kept their window open, but other windows were closed for the most part. CDC guidelines for schools state that “increasing ventilation by opening windows” decreases the spread of Covid-19.

Students, faculty, and staff will continue to grapple with drastic changes in public education. Unanimous cooperation with school health measures both on and off campus will be essential to the success of the Hamden District Transitional Reopening Plan.

“It’s been a very successful opening,” said Mr. Goeler. “The most critical thing to remember, however, is that we all need to be vigilant and continue to practice our safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”

*This article was published in the New Haven Register on August 23, 2020. It is reproduced above as originally published.