Rise in Saugatuck cases, classified outbreak


Photo by Ella Shi ’23

Saugatuck Elementary School has experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases, prompting optional testing on Oct. 1.

Toby Goldfarb ’23, Web News Editor

A total of 30 COVID-19 cases were identified as of Sept. 30 over the past week at Saugatuck Elementary School, according to the WPS COVID-19 Dashboard. This outbreak has led state health officials to recommend a round of testing for all of the school’s staff and students. Optional testing will be available Oct. 1 and administered by Progressive Diagnostics.

“Although there appears to be very limited transmission within the school as new cases span multiple grades and classrooms, by definition, a sudden rise in the number of cases at this rate would constitute an outbreak, ” Superintendent of Westport Public Schools Thomas Scarice wrote in an email sent to parents.

There is no immediate need for a school closure, as staffing is not an issue. However, Scarice writes that current mitigating measures have been discussed with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT-DPH). The department suggested that the recent rise in cases is due to community transmission, as opposed to in school, because elementary school students are not eligible for the vaccine.

“Clearly this is related to the vaccine,” Scarice said. “If you look at our cases this year, they are predominantly at the elementary level. There are very high vaccination rates at the middle and high school levels and that bodes well for the rest of the year and beyond.”

Although there are high vaccination rates for those who are eligible, some Staples students still are worried about younger, ineligible siblings at Westport Public Schools. 

“As someone with a brother who is [in elementary school], I’m not concerned about the effect the virus could have on him,” Alexa Gibson ’23 said.” I’m concerned that he could contract the virus and spread it to others who might have a worse [reaction] considering he cannot get the vaccine yet.”

Scarice, however, believes that the Saugatuck outbreak does not affect the general Staples High School student body.

“At this point, we have seen very, very little virus transmission from 7th grade through 12th grade,” Scarice said. “I suspect this is a result of the high vaccination rates since many of our middle and high school students are very active with each other outside of school, in sport and extracurriculars. I do not have a concern for Staples students at this point in time.”