Infographic by Finnegan Courtney '23
With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging across the world, Connecticut and Westport continue to level with the fallout from it.
However, there is more bad news on the horizon. This includes the steadily increasing case numbers in Westport from in the last two weeks.
The case rate per 100,000 in Westport was near 21.6. Now, as of Jan. 14, it has exploded upwards to 27.2 per 100,000 and the case numbers in Fairfield County are nearly double that, up from 43.8 per 100,000 to 50 per 100,000.
Outside of that, on a more local level, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice announced in an email on Jan. 13 that there were 10 new cases within the district, five of them coming from Staples, but no school closures coming as a result as of yet. He also reminded families that any student awaiting a COVID-19 test result should not come to school.
“In our efforts to remain transparent with reports of positive COVID-19 cases associated with our schools, we will continue to provide these updates as information is confirmed,” Scarice wrote. “This approach is critical in helping us continue to minimize the potential for transmission in our schools.”
However, even with these increasing numbers and a recently released statement from the Westport Education Association’s leadership saying they don’t feel this is the right time, a return to full in-person learning is still up for discussion in the Westport Board of Education.
“We’re still following the same course of action that I had recommended on Dec. 21,” Scarice said to the BOE on Jan. 11. “We still have time to review things between now and as we get towards the end of the month.”
However, it is quite likely this discussion would only include K-8 Westport students and not include a possible full-time return of Staples’ students, where COVID-19 positives have been increasing upwards since the return from winter break.
Some Staples students disagree with that choice and think it should be otherwise.
“I think that the school district should make changes as a whole so either all K-12 should go full time or nobody should,” Sarp Gurdogan ’23 said.
This all also comes upon the return of winter sports, which have been scheduled to start on Jan. 16 ever since the original postponement, proving true the words of Staples Athletic Director Marty Lisevick.
“We will have winter sports this year – we just may have to delay the start of them,” Lisevick told Inklings back in November.
However, the fate of them actually happening all hinges on the case numbers in the state, as it is controlled by CIAC, not by the districts themselves, but as of now, they are on. Besides that, a portion of Staples’ students believes that winter sports shouldn’t happen under the current circumstances.
“[They probably should] not,” Toby Obiwanne ’23 said. “The sports would be so different with all the new rules and regulations, the sports wouldn’t even feel the same.”
The BOE’s next meeting comes on Monday, Jan. 19, where they will no doubt discuss a possible full-time return to school. Some Staples’ students believe that getting to choose between the options available would be better for all parties involved.
“I think it would be smart if there was the choice to be [fully] in school or [fully] online,” Alex Pirkl ’22 said. “I personally feel it’s really difficult to learn online, and think it’s easier to learn in school.”