December 4, 2020

Neviaser “Very Pleased” with Governor’s Plan to Reopen All CT Schools in Fall 2020

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser

OLD LYME — Asked his reaction to Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona’s announcement yesterday that all schools statewide should plan to reopen to all students in the fall of 2020, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser told LymeLine exclusively by phone this morning that he is “very pleased with the Governor’s plan.”

The plan calls for mandatory mask-wearing by students and staff with certain exceptions, cohorting so that teams function independently as much as possible, and social distancing combined with heightened health and safety protocols.

The full press release from the Governor’s office is published in its entirety below.

Neviaser said, “I’m especially glad to see that they’re giving local flexibility … one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to schools … schools are different sizes, have different populations … or to put it another way, we’re different from Old Saybrook and East Lyme … and Hartford.”

Regarding next steps, Neviaser explained, “We have two committees already in place that have been anxiously awaiting this guidance.” He said that apart from the full return to school option, they have been looking into “remote learning” and also “a hybrid model with students coming into school on alternate days.”

Now the committees will work intensively to determine the optimum ways to implement the Governor’s plans specifically for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools. Neviaser said, “Ideally, we’ll get everyone back [to school] in a way that follows all the guidelines to keeps students and staff safe.” He added that LOL Schools will be working with the local health departments to ensure they comply with all health and safety guidelines.

Asked whether he thought the fall sports program would take place, Neviaser responded, “We intend to [have it in place] … the CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference) does too [for all schools in the conference] — we just don’t have any details yet.”

Finally, Neviaser noted that he does not know yet whether LOL Schools will have to supply masks to students and faculty, if the state will supply them or if students and faculty will be required to supply their own. Indicating he awaits further direction on that, he said that in the meantime, “I just have no idea.”

The following is the full press release issued by Governor Ned Lamont’s office yesterday, June 25:  Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona announced details yesterday of the framework to allow all students – in all school districts statewide – the opportunity to have access to in-school, full-time instruction at the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year, as long as public health data continues to support this model.

While Connecticut has determined reopening schools for in-person instruction can be achieved based upon the state’s successful COVID-19 containment efforts, this model will be supported with more intensive mitigation strategies and specific monitoring, containment, and class cancellation plans.

“While we’ve made good strides to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Connecticut, the virus hasn’t gone away and we need to do what we can to keep students and staff safe while also doing our best to provide our young people with access to an education that prepares them for the future,” Governor Lamont said.

He continued, “Working with public health and medical experts, and with the support of our educators, we are preparing a number of steps that protect the health and safety of everyone who makes contact with our school system.”

In assessing the approach to a required operating model, the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) considered input from school representatives, educators, families, students, educational stakeholders, advocacy organizations, and union representatives. The department conducted a review of nationally and globally published school reopening plans. The importance of access to in-person schooling rose as a priority related to educational opportunities, safety, wellbeing, and social-emotional learning.

“This pandemic represents more than a virus, it represents an historic disruption to our school communities and created barriers to how we best deliver academic and non-academic supports in a way that is accessible, equitable, and meaningful,” Commissioner Cardona said.

“Addressing the educational setbacks and the social-emotional toll caused by COVID-19 is best addressed by maximizing in-person instructional time,” noted Cardona, adding, “In developing this plan, we worked in close consultation with public health officials to prioritize the safety of our school communities and, just as intensively, engaged students, parents, and educators for their critical input. We stand with our districts, educators and families as we commit to making 2020-21 a year devoted to creativity, innovation, courage, and reimagining education together.”

In addition to the framework released today, SDE plans to release a more detailed guidance document next week that will provide more comprehensive information for school districts.

**DownloadExecutive summary of Connecticut’s 2020-21 school planning
**DownloadPresentation on Connecticut’s 2020-21 school planning

Framework for Connecticut Schools During the 2020-21 Academic Year
Guiding Principles

As Connecticut schools plan to reopen, the guidance and considerations outlined in this framework are grounded in six guiding principles:

  1. Safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff;
  2. Allowing all students the opportunity to return into the classrooms full time starting in the fall;
  3. Monitoring the school populations and, when necessary, potentially cancelling classes in the future to appropriately contain COVID-19 spread;
  4. Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities who are emerging from this historic disruption;
  5. Fostering strong two-way communication with partners such as families, educators and staff; and
  6. Factoring into decisions about reopening the challenges to the physical safety and social-emotional well-being of our students when they are not in school.

These guiding principles require all districts to develop their plans with a certain level of consistency, however they retain wide discretion in implementing approaches to reopening given unique local considerations. School districts must balance their planning with contingency plans to provide robust, blended learning or remote learning for all grades in the event that a school, district, or region has to cancel or limit in-person classes due to health precautions.

Main Operational Considerations

Cohorting

  • Districts should emphasize grouping students by the same class/group of students and teacher (into a cohort) so each team functions independently as much as possible. Consider this methodology by grade levels.
  • Placing students in cohorts is strongly encouraged for grades K-8, and encouraged where feasible for grades 9-12.

Social Distancing and Facilities

  • Review building space and reconfigure available classroom space, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, to maximize social distancing, consistent with public health guidelines in place at that time.

Transportation

  • Districts should plan for buses to operate close to capacity with heightened health and safety protocols, including requiring all students and operators wear face coverings.
  • Plans must be developed to activate increased social distancing protocols based upon community spread.

Face Coverings

  • All staff and students will be expected to wear a protective face covering or face mask that completely covers the nose and mouth when inside the school building, except for certain exceptions including when teachers are providing instruction.

Ensuring Equity and Access

  • Equitable access to education is a top priority that supports a full-time in-school model by mitigating any barriers to education or opportunity gaps that increased during the pandemic. Efforts to support equity, close the opportunity gap, and provide a wide range of support for students in the state is best achieved with in-person schooling opportunities for all ages.
  • Districts should identify gaps and develop action plans for reopening that specifically address inclusion, equity, and access for all learners with strategies and clearly defined action steps.
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Comments

  1. Joanna Cicchiello says

    What’s the plan for medically complex and vulnerable families?

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