Live streamed classes discontinued in Staples, middle schools


Graphic by Anastasia Thumser ’22

The temporary remote learning option for symptomatic or quarantined students will be redacted on Jan. 28 due to zero students in isolation or quarantine at Staples and Coleytown, and merely seven at Bedford.

Staples High School, Bedford Middle School and Coleytown Middle School will discontinue live streamed classes through the Google Meets platform on Jan. 28. The decision was made due to a lack of necessity for online classes after the number of quarantined students decreased significantly throughout the second half of January. 

“Given the rapid drop of Covid cases in our middle school and high school students, and the small number of students in quarantine, we will be returning to regular classroom instruction and discontinuing the use of live-stream cameras,” Superintendent Thomas Scarice stated in an email to parents on Jan. 26. 

Live streamed classes were incorporated along with in-person instruction on Jan. 10 in order to mitigate students’ stress over absences given the Omicron surge. 

According to the Westport Public School’s COVID Dashboard, between the week of Jan 3. and Jan. 8, when the decision was made to implement live streamed classes, there were 114 reported COVID cases at Staples. Between the week of Jan 24. and Jan. 30, there were three reported cases. 

“Pending additional cases or quarantine,” Scarice said in the email, “there will be zero SHS and CMS students in isolation or quarantine after today [Jan. 26], and only five students in isolation and two in quarantine at BMS.”

Given the fact that quarantine numbers dropped to nearly zero, the district decided that the live streaming option could be repealed. Some students agree with the decision, finding Google Meets to be underutilized. 

“The whole process [was] just another hassle for teachers,” Sasha Maskoff ’22 said. “The idea itself was well-thought out, but students clearly didn’t take advantage of it.”

As quarantine numbers decrease and the spread of Omicron lessens in severity, Scarice has made it clear that some COVID-specific safety measures, such as online learning and plastic dividers, may become obsolete. 

“We will continue to peel back mitigating measures prudently,” Scarice wrote in the email, “based on our local experience and input from public health advisors.”