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New Haven Keeps Schools Remote, Rolls Back to Phase 2 Amid COVID-19 Increases

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Schools in New Haven will remain remote until further notice rather than going to a hybrid model and the city is rolling back the business reopening guidelines, which will reduce the capacity for businesses like restaurants and close indoor performing arts venues amid an increase in cases of COVID-19.

New Haven officials on Thursday announced that they will not transition from virtual learning to a hybrid plan on Nov. 9 and the mayor sent a message to residents about the changes.

“We will not be opening schools in the hybrid model on November 9th as originally planned. Instead, students will continue remote learning, as they have done since the start of the school year. We know this decision creates a hardship on many New Haven families. The Health Director, Dr. Tracey and I did not make this decision lightly,” the message from New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said.

He said student learning hubs that the city operates will be closed indefinitely starting Monday, Nov. 2. Starting next Wednesday, Nov. 4, City Hall will be closed and accessible by appointment only. 

Starting immediately, the city will move from back from Phase III to Phase II of COVID-19 reopening and reducing the occupancy caps for many businesses, according to the mayor.

Restaurants will go from 75 percent capacity to 50 percent and indoor performing arts centers will go back to being closed.

The mayor said the COVID task force will also be increasing enforcement on establishments to ensure we are in compliance. 

Local officials said the surge in cases is happening because residents are going to social gatherings and parties and having other interactions with those outside of their core family group.

During a news conference on Thursday afternoon, the mayor said the issues are driven by adults making "sloppy decisions" and gathering in small groups, where they put each other and the larger community at risk.

The city is offering free COVID-19 testing for anyone in New Haven.

New Haven is investigating COVID-19 clusters at First Student, where there have been seven positive cases and three possible cases, and one student had contact with one of the bus drivers who tested positive, city officials said.

The city is also investigating a cluster at a daycare.

Officials said the cases have been linked to social gatherings and parties.

Elicker said Wednesday that he might have to impose some new restrictions within the city after a wastewater monitoring program for the area detected a large spike in COVID-19 genetic markers in the sewage. The concentration levels of COVID-19 in wastewater is looked at as a leading indicator of a potential spike in coronavirus cases in the coming days.

“When cases go up, we tighten the faucet a little bit, we shut down people’s opportunities to interact with each other so much," Elicker said.

Testing of wastewater in the New Haven area has shown a recent spike in COVID-19 concentration in the sewage, which could be an indicator of a subsequent spike in cases in the coming days.
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