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Message on Coronavirus to CTECS Community from the Superintendent

March 13, 2020
Dear families,

I am writing to inform you that all of Connecticut’s technical high schools will be closed for two weeks, starting Monday, March 16. 

On the advice of our local health departments, CTECS, along with many other school districts across the state, have made a decision to put the health of our community (both our school community and the community at large) at the center of our decision to close schools. We have been advised by local health authorities that the implementation of social distancing measures is a proven science-based intervention that has been shown to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with communicable disease outbreaks. In the past, communities in which schools closed were able to positively impact and reduce the spread of disease. We felt compelled to make this decision to prevent the spread of illness among our students, staff, and our communities. 

We also clearly have been told that we cannot confirm how long it will take for this illness to run its course. As such, we made the determination to start with a two-week closure. This decision was made in consultation with and with the support of the health departments, elected officials and emergency management professionals.

There has been much discussion about the concept of distance learning during prolonged absences. At this time the Connecticut State Department of Education has discouraged districts from utilizing this approach due to concerns over instructional consistency, equity of access both intra-district and inter-district, disruption of special education services, and multiple employee contractual issues. We will continue, during this school closing, to seek ways to provide supplemental education to our students. 

We will continue to communicate as we receive updated guidance from our public health officials, the CDC, and state officials. Please continue to monitor your email and/or ParentSquare to ensure receipt of the most current closure information. You can plan on receiving weekly updates, if not more frequently, as things evolve. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented event.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Wihbey 
Superintendent of Schools


March 10, 2020

I’m writing to provide an update on the measures the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System (CTECS) is taking in preparedness for a possible Coronavirus (COVID-19) event that effects our schools.

We continue to collaborate closely with our local and state departments of public health, the State Department of Education and Governor Lamont’s office. We also regularly monitor updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the federal government. All district decisions are made following guidance from one of the above-mentioned agencies.

Here is what you need to know:

  • First and foremost, if you are feeling ill, please stay home and rest! While good attendance is important, your health is even more so.
  • All CTECS locations have been practicing enhanced cleaning and sanitizing practices since COVID-19 became a threat. This includes extra cleaning of “touch points”, such as door knobs and railings. We are also purchasing additional and more advanced sanitizing equipment.
  • We’ve convened CTECS’ emergency planning and response team. Over the last few weeks, this team of district leaders has been reviewing and updating our health and safety response plans, as well as developing academic contingency plans in the event of an extended school closure.
  • At this time, we do not anticipate closing schools, however, if an extended school closure becomes necessary, we are in a good position to provide distance learning to our students through the 1:1 device program.
  • Until further notice, CTECS has canceled all out-of-state field trips. We are closely monitoring in-state field trips, and will cancel or postpone them if a large gathering is anticipated at the trip site.
  • Any student on Work-based Learning outside the state of Connecticut will not be able to participate in the program until further notice.
  • All student shadowing and internships in hospitals, healthcare centers, and clinical settings have been suspended until further notice.
  • All CTECS-hosted events and gatherings that exceed 100 attendees have been postponed or canceled.
  • This is a good time to remind families to sign up for their School Based Health Center (SBHC), if it is available at your school location. Please note that our school nurses (not part of the SBHC) will not screen students or staff to identify cases of COVID-19, however they are actively engaged in providing guidance on preventative measures.

I am aware that may still be many unanswered questions. Please be patient as we plan and prepare for the ever-changing implications of COVID-19. We will continue to communicate with you regularly via email/ParentSquare about coronavirus, and the steps students, staff and families should take to help protect themselves and each other in the weeks ahead.

Remember:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Follow up by washing/sanitizing hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects.
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds. Hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection.
  • If soap and water are not available for hand washing, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.


You can find Connecticut specific updates at https://ct.gov/coronavirus, and updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.


February 28, 2020

You are most likely aware of the current public health situation related to the novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) that originated in Wuhan, China. To date, there are no reported cases in the state of Connecticut.

However, the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System (CTECS) continues to closely monitor updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the federal government, and we are working in collaboration with our local and state departments of public health regarding coronavirus.

Please note that CTECS will refer to the federal government’s travel advisories when making decisions concerning upcoming field trips.

The CDC considers the immediate health risk to the general population from the virus to be low at this time, however, CTECS recommends following the CDC guidelines below to prevent any infection of a respiratory virus and ensure the well being of our school communities:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Follow up by washing/sanitizing hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects.
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds. Hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection.
  • If soap and water are not available for hand washing, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

If you or a family member are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, congestion, and shortness of breath, please contact a healthcare provider or go to the nearest walk-in center/clinic.

For the most current information on the coronavirus, stay in contact with your local health department, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website for the most updated guidance related to planning, preparedness, travel advisories, etc. as well as the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s (DPH) website for Connecticut-specific information.

We will continue to communicate with you about our ongoing efforts regarding the coronavirus. Thank you for your continued support in keeping our students and staff safe.

Sincerely, 

Jeffrey Wihbey

Superintendent of Schools

 
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