Superintendent: Error led to inaccurate COVID report for Milford

Superintendent of Schools Anna Cutaia discusses the Milford schools opening at Pumpkin Delight Elementary School in Milford, Conn. on Thursday, September 10, 2020.

Superintendent of Schools Anna Cutaia discusses the Milford schools opening at Pumpkin Delight Elementary School in Milford, Conn. on Thursday, September 10, 2020.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — The city recently discovered it was not properly updating the state database tracking COVID cases in local schools.

Although the city reports positive COVID cases to parents by email regularly, the state database for weeks has shown no cases in local schools.

“We looked at the state portal records and learned that, due to a clerical error on our end, Milford Public Schools data had not been updated,” Superintendent Ana Cutaia said.

Once alerted to the issue, the school district quickly corrected it, said Cutaia, who did not say how the mistake was made.

The district’s reporting practices led to parent complaints and accusations that school officials were delaying submitting details to the state so the database would display lower or no cases at all.

“After being made aware of this we have immediately updated all data to include all positive cases through Friday, Dec. 3,” the superintendent told Hearst Connecticut Media. “We are communicating with the Connecticut Department of Public Health to ensure they have the necessary data for the website.”

Cutaia said since the start of the pandemic, the district has provided parents with daily reporting of the cases — by 4 p.m. — that have been identified to the schools by the Milford Health Department.

“For cases reported to us after 4 p.m.,” Cutaia said, “those are recorded and shared with parents the next day. These notification letters have been part of our standard practice.”

Overall, the district reports 229 students, or 4.2 percent of total enrollment, has tested positive for COVID to date this school year. District records show 37 staffers, or 2.6 percent, have also tested positive. District Communications Director Kathy Bonetti said 94 percent of the staff is vaccinated.

For the month of October alone, the school district sent at least seven notices to parents about positive COVID cases — in some instances multiple cases — at Calf Pen Elementary School. Yet the state database did not reflect this.

Cutaia said one of the elementary schools, which she did not name, recently had a spate of cases.

“We recently had a higher than usual number of positive cases at one of our elementary schools,” Cutaia said, noting that the city then met with state health officials, communicated the information to the school community and then held “free public COVID testing clinics at the school for multiple days before and after Thanksgiving.”

“Certainly, these are not actions of a school district that is intentionally not reporting to parents or the state,” Cutaia added.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com