Dear Norwich Public Schools educational community,
I am writing to inform you that the Norwich Public Schools will be closed until further notice effective immediately. At a minimum, schools will be closed for two weeks. Please be aware that as guidance is updated, this may need to be extended.
On the advice of our local health departments, the school Superintendents in southeastern Connecticut have come together to make 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 heard that we cannot confirm that this illness will run its course in two weeks, in fact, it is not likely that it will. We made the determination to make this closure “indefinite” based on that information. 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 (especially in the early grades), 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. Should we be able to utilize a distance learning model, we will notify parents, students, and staff members of how this will be implemented.
At this time, we have no other information to share but will continue to communicate as we receive updated guidance from our public health officials, the CDC, and state officials.
I will send a communication every Friday (even if that communication lets you know that there are no updates). Please refrain from calling schools or the school department. Please refrain from emailing me or school department employees as we simply cannot keep up with the volume. We have, on our website a place for families to communicate questions and comments. I will review those questions and comments frequently and they will inform my future correspondence with you.
Please continue to monitor your email to ensure receipt of the most current information. We expect that more district-specific information will be forthcoming. Thank you for your patience and understanding. The students, staff, and families of Norwich are the most precious elements of our school department and we are doing everything we can to ensure your safety.
Kristen E. Stringfellow, Ed.D.