Superintendent: Wilton's 'yellow' COVID status delays middle school return

WILTON — A recent surge in cases has elevated the town’s COVID status to “yellow” and will delay Middlebrook Middle School students from returning to the classrooms full-time, the superintendent said.

There have been 14 new cases of the coronavirus reported by the Department of Public Health since Oct. 11, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said on the town’s website. Six of the cases were reported on Wednesday.

Wilton is among three Fairfield County municipalities that are considered by the state as “yellow alert” communities with 5 or more cases per 100,000 residents. Stamford has 8.9 cases per 100,000, Easton is at 5.7, and Wilton is at 5.4 cases.

Three other Fairfield County municipalities are considered “red alert” communities with 15 or more cases per 100,000 residents. Fairfield is at 19.6, Norwalk is at 18.9 and Danbury is at 15.1.

Wilton’s average daily cases jumped from 0.5 for the period of Oct. 1-10, to 1.4 for the period of Oct. 11-20 — a 218 percent increase, Vanderslice reported. That was far above the Fairfield County average of a 31-percent increase during that span.

The uptick in cases is a cause for concern and caution Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith told the Board of Education on Thursday evening. The board had been scheduled to vote on a plan to return students to the middle school four days a week, as children in kindergarten through fifth grade have been doing, but Smith suggested the board defer any action for now. The middle and high schools have been operating on a hybrid model.

“COVID positivity numbers have come up substantially,” he said, and after speaking with the district’s medical consultants, including Wilton Health Director Barry Bogle, he said the district will continue with its plan to have students return, but it will be delayed. He said the earliest students could return would be Nov. 2, but that was “highly unlikely.”

“The infection rates are too high,” he said, adding there is not enough “hard and fast data that guides one community or another.”

Smith said the district has had only two cases in the schools since reopening, one on Sept. 11 and one two weeks ago.

“When you look at the towns all around us, we’ve been very fortunate,” he said.

The CT Data Center reported Wilton has had 283 positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began with 76 new cases since June 16, the beginning of the Phase 2 reopening. There have been 83 positive cases reported since May 19, the beginning of the Phase 1 reopening.

A total of 5,080 residents have been tested for the illness, with 7,710 tests performed overall.

The town has suffered 42 deaths, one since June 16.