Student Enrollment Spikes; Schools Add Sections

The COVID surge in real estate has led to a spike in students.

Westport’s 5 elementary schools have 88 more students than officials planned for previously. With a total of 2,335 boys and girls in kindergarten through grade 5, that means an additional 6 teachers.

Brian Fullenbaum reports that assistant superintendent of schools John Bayers provided those figures at last night’s Board of Education meeting — the day before school opens. He noted that Long Lots had the highest rise — 581 students, up 40 over projections — resulting in 5 kindergarten sections.

Coleytown and Greens Farms both added kindergarten sections, while Kings Highway added one in 4th grade.

Numbers continue to fluctuate. Bedford and Coleytown Middle School figures, and those for Staples High, were not provided last night.

Enrollment at Long Lots rose more than any other elementary school.

District supervisor of health services Suzanne Levasseur said that Westport’s COVID rate is higher starting school this year than last year. There were 18 cases in town last week, 4 of them in school-aged youngsters. Some of the new cases were in fully vaccinated people.

In Westport, 94.9% of 12-17-year-olds have received at least one vaccination. 86% are fully vaccinated.

Vaccinated students do not need to quarantine if they have been in the same class as someone who has been exposed — unless they show symptoms.

Levasseur also noted that the statewide mask mandate in schools runs through September 30. Westport does not allow teachers to unmask, although the state permits it.

Visitors to schools must show proof of vaccination.

There is no remote learning this year. However, the district has 8 on-call tutors for students who need to quarantine.

Levasseur said that the town has expressed interest in a sate program that would allow free voluntary testing for students in grades K-6.

Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice and Westport Police captain Ryan Paulsson talked about patrols at Westport schools.

Currently, a School Resource Officer monitors Staples. An additional officer was posted at Bedford last year.

Scarice suggested that there should be a patrol position for a police officer to monitor all 7 elementary and middle schools, including perimeters. He noted the positive influence on students of seeing the officer as a a friendly face and role model.

The Board of Ed also discussed the Staples High School roof project. The original budget was $5.3 million; this might be lowered to $5 million. If approved on September 8, the project is scheduled to start after school ends in June. It would be finished by the start of the new school year.

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