NORWALK — A city school bus driver who died this week had the coronavirus, according to sources with knowledge of the man’s condition.

A representative from the local Teamsters chapter said the bus drivers union was notified about the Norwalk man’s death. The union was not told how the driver died due to HIPAA laws that prohibit the disclosure of personal medical information. However, sources told Hearst Connecticut Media on Tuesday that the man had COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“This is obviously another heartbreaking example of the seriousness of this global pandemic, especially hard as it hits so close to home in our community,” Board of Education member Colin Hosten said. “I know I join a large chorus in expressing my condolences and prayers for the family.”

City and school officials declined to provide information about the bus driver’s death, including whether the man had been delivering meals to students and if families had been contacted about potential exposure to the coronavirus. There are now more than 300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Norwalk and 10 deaths, including five reported on Tuesday.

The city had been distributing meals to students at bus stops, but immediately shifted on Monday to handing out the food at several schools and the Ben Franklin Community Center instead.

Brenda Wilcox-Williams, chief communications officer for Norwalk Public Schools, would not confirm the driver’s death, its possible connection to the coronavirus, or say if there are employees under quarantine due to exposure.

“As cases of coronavirus rise in Fairfield County, we know it’s likely that our employees and families will be impacted,” Wilcox-Williams said. “These are very difficult times and there are no easy answers. We will continue to do all we can to keep our students learning and to keep providing meals that many rely on, while abiding by all health guidelines to slow the spread of coronavirus.”

Deanna D'Amore, director of the Norwalk Health Department, also declined to provide information about the bus driver’s death, citing HIPAA laws.

“We have been in daily communication with the Norwalk Public Schools. They follow public health guidelines to limit risk and exposure while serving Norwalk students and families during this unprecedented time,” she said. “We also have a duty as public health professionals to not respond to questions from the media when they ask us about individuals and protected health information.”

Wilcox-Williams said information about school employees would not be released “for privacy reasons.”

On Monday, however, Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo said a school employee involved in food distribution tested positive for coronavirus more than a week ago and has not returned to work since the district learned the person was symptomatic. The employee was not directly involved in food preparation, Costanzo said.

Costanzo said two other employees were asked to self-quarantine due to potential exposure. Meanwhile, another employee is in self-quarantine after exhibiting symptoms but had not yet been tested.

Wilcox-Williams did not say if any employees or families have been contacted due to exposure concerns.

“Demand for student meals is high, as more and more people are out of work and at home, and at the same time, the health situation keeps evolving,” she said. “People are understandably worried right now and there are a lot of rumors. While it is important to be cautious and follow all guidance from the city and state, it’s also important that everyone is careful about the information they share. Misinformation can prevent people from getting the help and services they may need.”

On Sunday, the school district announced it was immediately stopping the distribution of student meals via school buses. The city began on Monday dispersing the meals at distribution centers instead.

School officials, however, have said the change was not related to the food worker testing positive for the coronavirus.

“I have been in discussions with Dr. Costanzo to make sure the distribution of food is as safe and efficient as possible,” Mayor Harry Rilling said. “Ultimately, I think this is a better model. It will help with physical distancing that I understand was sometimes a problem at bus stops. Ideally, people will be able to arrive in their vehicle and pick up their meals. I know that might not be as convenient as bus stop deliveries, but I am fully committed to making sure students have the meals they need, whether that means using police officers or volunteers to help deliver meals.”

Wilcox-Williams said the schools continue to adhere to health and hygiene guidelines and clean and sanitize the kitchen daily.

“I know rumors and misinformation thrive online, but I echo all reassurances that every single decision has been made with public health as a top priority,” Hosten said. “New guidelines for meal distribution have been shared, and I urge the public to continue to follow all directives from the city, state, and federal health officials. This is a very serious situation, but I know we can get through it, together.”

erin.kayata@hearstmediact.com