What to Know
- Gov. Ned Lamont announced in a tweet on Tuesday that he is canceling all in-person classes for K-12 students in Connecticut for the current school year. He is expected to sign an executive order today.
- Distance learning will be continuing and schools are required to continue providing meals for students to consume at home under the school lunch and breakfast programs as they have throughout this pandemic.
- Summer camps will be able to reopen on June 29 with appropriate coronavirus prevention measures
Gov. Ned Lamont has canceled in-person classes for public school students in kindergarten through grade 12 for the rest of the school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It breaks my heart," the governor said.
Distance learning will continue for the rest of the school year and schools will also be required to continue providing meals to children under the school lunch and breakfast programs for consumption at home, as they have been throughout this emergency.
“I know how important it is for so many students and teachers to finish out the school year, and I was holding out hope – particularly for high school seniors – that we’d at least be able to complete the final few weeks, but given the current circumstances and to protect everyone’s safety, it has become clear that it’s just not possible,” Lamont said in a statement.
Lamont said he was hoping to be able to reopen the schools, even for a few weeks, to give teachers and students a conclusion.
"This was no time to take that risk," Lamont said.
The governor said he is consulting with state and local education officials about whether summer school should go on as scheduled and expects to have guidance toward the end of this month.
Child care remains open in Connecticut, said Beth Bye, commissioner of the office of early childhood.
Bye said summer camps in the state can reopen this summer on June 29 with appropriate coronavirus precautions. The state will be releasing guidelines on May 15 that camps must follow before reopening.
The State Department of Education and the Governor’s Learn from Home Task Force have been distributing remote learning resources that have been donated to Connecticut, including 60,000 Dell laptops from the Partnership for Connecticut and more than 185,000 Scholastic book packs for prekindergarten to eighth grade student. Due to global supply chain shortages during the pandemic, the laptops and book packs are arriving to Connecticut in staggered waves, according to the governor's office.
In-person graduations likely will not be permitted for June, Lamont said. He said he would recommend virtual graduations for the time being with additional guidance on when ceremonies can resume in the coming weeks.
The Connecticut Education Association released a statement supporting the governor's decision.
“We understand the emotion and sadness regarding closing schools and missing certain milestones and celebrations, but at this time, everyone’s top priority must be to protect the health of students and staff, and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said CEA President Jeff Leake.
The Connecticut Association of School Administrators also announced its support for the cancellation of in-person classes for the current academic year.
"We fully support the decision to complete the school year with distance learning," said the organization's chair, Anthony Ditrio, in a statement. "The reality is that no student can learn successfully in an unsafe environment, and re-opening schools before the coronavirus has been contained would only put students, teachers and administrators at risk. The most important thing we can all do now is work together to ensure a safe and successful reopening in the fall and hope that public health considerations will allow it to happen.”
The state Department of Education is working with every school district to determine what additional distance learning needs they have.
“The difficult decision to cancel classes for the remainder of the year is based on the health and safety of our students, their families, and our Connecticut communities,” Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said. “While technology and remote learning will never replace the experience of our students in their school community, we are committed to constantly improving access to high-quality materials and connectivity for our students. Districts are working hard to find creative ways to celebrate the success of our seniors, as well as students who are transitioning from fifth and eighth grade."
Cardona said the department is focused on working to get students back to school in a safe way in the fall.
Schools are not inherently designed for social distancing, Cardona said. Spaces in buildings, such as cafeterias, gyms and media centers could be used at points during the school days for learning.
Schools will receive more guidance over the next month or two about what classes should look like in the fall, including class sizes and other requirements, Lamont said.
Up until now, schools were closed through May 20.
Lamont has said that he is looking for two straight weeks of a decline in hospitalizations before considering reopening Connecticut, which is consistent with federal guidelines as well.
In a tweet, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wrote the decision is to protect the health of our kids, educators and families.
Last month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced all schools in the state would remain closed through the end of the year.
The states are expected to continue with remote learning while the schools are closed.