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HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) - The Town of Hamden has pushed back its first day of school due to COVID-19 concerns.

According to the Hamden Board of Education, the new start date is Sept. 15, 2020.

The decision was made after a vote that happened during a meeting on Tuesday night.

The board confirmed on Wednesday that two Hamden High School teachers tested positive for the virus on Friday.

It provided a statement on Wednesday morning:

On Aug. 25, the Hamden Public Schools Board of Education voted to delay the reopening of schools until Sept. 15. As the over 280 people who virtually attended the meeting know, the meeting lasted 4 ½ hours, the majority of which was a discussion on the need for this delay. It was not an easy decision.

To be clear: No one on the Board of Education and no one on the district administration team wanted to delay reopening. What they DID want was to ensure that when schools do open, our students have the teachers and other staff in place so that classes and other school routines operate well. The delay until Sept. 15 will allow the district to work through most if not all of the very complex personnel matters (many of which have legal implications) to make this happen.

All new safety structures are in place in our buildings. Teachers are busy learning the new technology tools and structures needed to reopen in a hybrid model. We are all anxious to get students back to school, and thank our community for their patience as we resolve the remaining issues for a positive reopening of schools.

"I believe we can start on the 8th, but it keeps me awake at night knowing we might not have all the staff in place," said Jody Ian Goeler, Hamden superintendent. 

Goeler says that the teachers testing positive have nothing to do with the decision to start later. The high school was shut down for cleaning. 

"We also took the opportunity to close the high school for days and then we had the weekend as well," Goeler said. 

Teachers still have questions about how the district will handle staff who have health issues that raise their risk of death from the coronavirus. The district needs time to see if they can put extra protections in place, like more dividers. 

"We want to make sure that our staff and our district have everything squared away so that when our students do come back, they can be successful," said Walter Moran IV, Hamden Board of Education member. 

Roughly 20 parents sent messages to the board urging them to start on September 8. Some saying the need their kids back in school, while others questioning why the board can't do a virtual start to get the year going. 

As of Tuesday, Hamden had a total of 1,054 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, according to data released by the state.

A breakdown of the state's data can be found here.

The Connecticut Education Association, which represents Hamden's teacher's union, declined to comment on Wednesday. They did release a plan last week that called for a two-week delay to school to allow for more preparations. 

Copyright 2020 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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