HARTFORD - Connecticutâ€™s largest school district in Bridgeport is among several in the state to announce an end or scaling back of in-person learning as coronavirus rates keep rising.
Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools Michael Testani said Thursday that all instruction will be switched to remote learning on Nov. 23.
â€śThe consistent increase in positive cases of COVID-19 in our community is cause for great concern at this time, as it affects our ability to safely keep our schools adequately staffed and safe for in-person learning,â€ť he said in a notification to parents.
Bridgeport is seeing some of the largest increases of infections in the state, with a two-week average of 53 new daily cases per 100,000 population. As of Thursday, there were 89 students and 30 staff members at 34 schools who had tested positive, Hearst Connecticut Media reported.
Also Thursday, Waterbury schools announced that four high schools and three middle schools will be moving from a hybrid model of some in-school classes and some remote learning to full remote instruction on Nov. 30. Plans call for students returning to schools on Jan. 19.
Ansonia schools also alerted parents Thursday that all in-school classes will end Friday and the district will switch completely to remote instruction through Jan. 18, citing the townâ€™s high positive virus test rate of 27%.
Earlier this month, Hartford schools said they were reducing the number of in-person learning days per week for kindergarten through ninth grade beginning Nov. 16. On Tuesday, Shelton schools announced that all instruction would be moved online until January.
Many schools around the state have closed temporarily this school year because of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19. Within the past week, nearly 700 students and more than 300 school staff around Connecticut tested positive, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Despite increasing virus rates, Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday continued to urge schools districts to keep in-person learning at least for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. He said data show young children are not a major contributor to rising virus rates, and long-term isolation can harm students socially and emotionally.
â€śI think Connecticut did well having the majority of their schools open as long as we have,â€ť the Democratic governor said at a news briefing Thursday. â€śWeâ€™re going to watch this over the next couple weeks.â€ť
Lamont added it was possible many schools could switch to remote learning after Thanksgiving, given the rising virus rates.
On Thursday, the state reported 10 more coronavirus-related deaths compared with Wednesday, bringing the stateâ€™s total to 4,726. Another 33 people were hospitalized compared with Wednesday, pushing the total to more than 600, the highest number in several months.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in the state has increased by about 730, a 120% increase, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Also Thursday, Lamont announced the state has launched its COVID Alert CT cellphone app, which informs people if they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Information on the app is available at www.ct.gov/covidalertct .
Officials said that once the app is installed, it uses Bluetooth to sense whether a userâ€™s phone has been within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus for a total of 15 minutes or more in one day. Lamont said the app does not share any personal information.