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New Haven Increases COVID-19 Testing, Preps for Return To Class

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After much debate this summer in districts across the state on the return to school, New Haven opted to take 10 extra weeks to prep all 41 school buildings for in-person learning. Now, they say they’re on the path for a November 9 hybrid learning launch.  

“There are eight schools ready to go right now, and all of the other ones are on track,” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.

On a COVID-19 update call Wednesday, officials said they’ve worked with the city’s health department, its COVID-19 taskforce, and gathered input from Yale University.

They’re making changes to the bathrooms, placing social distancing and capacity signage, and taking away one area where students often come in close contact.

“Lockers won’t be used this year so our kids will be carrying their bags,” said New Haven Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Michael Pinto.

They’re also working outside the buildings on high efficiency air filtration systems.

“We’re in the process to take delivery of MERV-13 standard filter systems that will be installed,” said Pinto. “We have them installed in about seven schools currently just because they arrived earlier.” He explained the remaining buildings will be fitted starting this week.

Families can choose to keep students remote in November and the several city and non-profit learning pods are available.

“That’s important because in the hybrid model there are still some days of online learning,” said Elicker, who explained it’s a valuable resource for some families.

The call continued discussing children. Health Director Maritza Bond released details on Halloween in the Elm City.

“We are not recommending door to door trick or treating because it’s really hard to maintain proper social distancing,” said Bond.

They suggest virtual activities and car parades. The guidance comes as the city starts to see an increase in cases. There have been 60 cases over the last two weeks, where there were just 20 in the two-week period prior.

“There’s been small gatherings of individuals getting together and increased activities indoors,” said Bond, who added the cases are a community spread and have and are not related to a specific incident or group.

The city has continued to offer free access to COVID-19 testing since screening launched in New Haven in the spring. Now they’re offering testing at school locations throughout the city. Several people showed up to Troup Middle School Wednesday for a test.

“We’ll continue to monitor hot spots in our city and continue to expand as needed,” said Bond.

Testing will rotate at school locations throughout October and is offered through a partnership with Yale New Haven Health, Cornell Scott Hill Health Center and Fair Haven Health.

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