Coronavirus CT News: In one town, a new spike in COVID cases changes school plans

COVID-19 News and Information
DANBURY, Connecticut (WABC) -- A spike in coronavirus cases in Danbury has prompted changes in plans for both local schools and one university.

On Tuesday, Governor Ned Lamont and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton repeated their call for residents to get tested and to limit family gatherings.

The rise in infections has been linked to residents traveling nationally and internationally, as well as gatherings at houses of worship and even youth sporting events, which have now been shut down.

Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella announced that the start of the school year would begin with remote learning for all students.

"I can appreciate that this decision impacts so many of you in a variety of ways," he wrote in a letter to parents. "Please know we are all eager to see your children on September 8 in Distance Learning. I intend to revisit the state of our local health conditions and their impact on school programming on October 1, at which time we will make a determination as to the best model in which to continue schools."

Western Connecticut State University also announced it was temporarily moving all classes online and barring students from returning to residence halls for at least two weeks.

Nearly 900 students were expected to begin moving into dorms on Sunday, but school President John Clark announced the new restrictions on Saturday.

About 60 students who moved in early are being told to stay on campus for the next two weeks, and commuting students must stay off campus, he said.

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WSCU had planned for some of its classes to be a combination of in-person and online learning, but moved all classes to online-only for at least two weeks because of the new spike in virus cases. Classes will begin online on Wednesday as originally planned.

"We understand that delaying the campus experience is inconvenient and disappointing to students and their families, but it is our responsibility to follow state recommendations to keep our students, faculty and staff as safe as possible while doing our part to prevent community spread," Clark said in a statement.

The state Department of Public Health issued a coronavirus alert for Danbury on Friday night due to what officials called a serious outbreak in the city. Nearly 180 residents tested positive for the virus from Aug. 2 to 20, compared with 40 who tested positive the previous two weeks.

RELATED: New Jersey students test positive after attending beach party in Sea Isle City

The state alert recommends that residents stay home, avoid unnecessary outings, limit indoor gatherings and avoid attending church services.

About 4,500 undergraduates attend WSCU, most of them commuters.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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