Report: Wilton teen parties lead to at least 25 COVID cases

Wilton High School remains on distance learning due to a COVID outbreak that the town's health director stems from several teen parties.

Wilton High School remains on distance learning due to a COVID outbreak that the town’s health director stems from several teen parties.

Hearst /

WILTON — Three teen gatherings in a span of two days have led to at least 25 COVID cases and the high school remaining closed, town officials said Wednesday.

Two gatherings held on Jan. 15 and another one on Jan. 16 were the source of the outbreak that resulted in Wilton High School switching to remote learning, according to Barry Bogle, the town’s health director who has compiled a report about the incidents.

In the report, Bogle said COVID-19 safety protocols regarding gathering size, mask wearing and social distancing were not followed at the first event held on Jan. 15. Bogle said the protocols were also not followed at the other gatherings, which included some of the same students as the first event.

The number of attendees at the second and third gatherings was unknown, Bogle said. The scope of the cross-over of attendees between the three gatherings was also unknown, Bogle said.

One of the attendees, who was in school on Jan. 20, has not participated in contact tracing, Bogle said. The student’s health status, symptoms, and direct contacts while in school that day are unknown, Bogle said.

“In the absence of that knowledge and with daily new cases among WHS students, who were direct contacts of attendees, Wilton High School remains closed,” the report states.

The Wilton High School calendar indicates students will remain in remote learning through at least Feb. 3.

According to Bogle’s report, 16 Wilton High students tested positive after attending the first gathering. Another attendee is awaiting results. Three more high school students, who did not attend, also tested positive after having direct contact with the attendees, the report stated.

All WHS students were asked to stay home and monitor for symptoms after the initial outbreak due to the potential for spread throughout the entire Wilton community.

On Jan. 25, 10 days after the gathering, town officials said the risk of widespread exposure had become minimal and the request for those students to remain home was lifted.

But the outbreak has affected more than just the group of high school students. One Middlebrook Middle School student, who did not attend but was in direct contact with someone who did, tested positive, as did one Cider Mill student.

Bogle’s report also claims that four “non school-aged” people contracted the virus due to direct contact with an attendee.

The outbreak delayed a plan to bring Middlebrook Middle School back to full in-person (with the district-wide half-day remote Wednesdays.) The decision caused members of the Board of Education to express frustration at its last meeting.

Twenty two individuals who attended the gathering have participated in contact tracing efforts and have been self-isolating.

In a video released on the Wilton High School TV YouTube channel on Wednesday, Principal Robert O’Donnell told the school community that these recent developments are a reminder that student health is paramount and adhering to social distancing guidelines is still important.

“I think we all need to consider the consequences of decisions that we make,” O’Donnell said. “Unfortunately, the implications of this go well beyond some of these decisions.”