Branford second-graders go remote over staff shortages due to COVID

Branford Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez addresses the Board of Education on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019

BRANFORD — The Branford Public Schools system is moving to a remote learning model for the Mary T. Murphy School second grade, citing a staff shortage following the two most recent coronavirus cases announced Monday at Murphy School and Branford High School.

“We continue to experience an increase in reported COVID (+) cases,” Superintendent of School Hamlet Hernandez said in a letter to parents, guardians and community members posted Monday on the Branford Public Schools website.

“The District was notified that two more members of the school community, one at Mary T. Murphy School and one at Branford High School, tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19,) bringing the total number of COVID (+) cases to 18,” Hernandez wrote.

“The affected persons were last in school on Nov. 12, 2020 and Nov. 13, 2020 respectively,” he wrote. “Each has been instructed to remain on home isolation for 10 days. Anyone who would be considered a ‘close contact’ of these people has already been contacted by school officials and/or public health officials and provided with instructions on the appropriate steps to take.”

The district, in collaboration with the East Shore (District) Health Department, “determined that there is no reason to close school but determined it was necessary to move the entire second-grade to remote learning because of staff shortages,” Hernandez said.

Health Director Michael Pascucilla clarified Tuesday, saying that it’s just the entire Murphy School second grade, not the entire district’s second grade classes that will be moving to the distance learning model.

“We ask that parents/guardians, students, and staff continue to follow CDC guidance for healthy practices, to monitor their health, and to stay home and contact their medical provider should they experience any of the symptoms below,” he wrote.

COVID-19 symptoms to watch for include a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, chills or shaking chills, uncontrolled new cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough,) difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, or a new loss of taste or smell.

For additional information on COVID-19 symptoms, go to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

“As anticipated with the onset of cooler weather, our area’s COVID-19 positivity rate is increasing,” Hernandez wrote. “Our school district will continue to monitor the evolving crisis and appreciates your partnership in making choices that help to keep our staff, students, and community safe.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Health Director Michael Pascucilla clarified Tuesday that it’s just the entire Murphy School second grade, not the entire district’s second-grade classes, that will be moving to the distance learning model.

Connecticut Media Group