The state Department of Education has released a plan intending to fully reopen schools and bring students back into the classroom and the Connecticut Education Association is weighing in with its own reopening plan, called the “CEA’s Safe Learning Plan.”
The CEA, an organization that teachers join, raised concerns about the state's plan and said its own plan calls for delaying the opening of school if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health and safety requirements for schools cannot be met.
It asks for guarantees that the state will provide districts with funding for all COVID-19 expenses so that school districts can meet the CDC and public health and safety requirements; calls for “recognizing and addressing the risks for students, teachers, and staff in school during a pandemic” and “understanding that moving the economy forward depends on the safety of schools, not just reopening schools.”
The CEA is calling to allow districts to begin the school year through distance or remote learning where necessary and for any in-class learning, for districts to reduce density through staggered schedules.
“Nothing is more important than keeping our students, our educators, and our families safe,” CEA President Jeff Leake said in a statement. “We owe our students and educators the measures of safety and security they deserve. We must not fail to provide the necessary protections and risk new increases in COVID-19 infection rates, especially in light of new evidence showing that most school children can spread the virus the same as adults.”
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The CEA also wants requirements for weekly testing for all students, teachers and staff who return to school and for contact tracing protocols. You can read the full plan here.
Leake said the pandemic has highlighted huge disparities in resources among districts, like one school district sending laptops home and others sending paper packets.
“Some of the disparities between districts are just stark and just not fair, so we want to make sure that as we move forward we don’t continue any sort of learning loss for any kid that is in our schools and make sure that we’re doing the best we can,” he said.
At the end of June, the state department of education, which oversees the state’s schools, released its plan. “Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together.” You can read it here.
Miguel Cardona, the commissioner of education, said he wants schools to reopen this fall but only if it is safe for students and teachers and returning to school will look somewhat different in each district.
The state asked schools to provide plans for three scenarios: a full opening of schools, a hybrid model with fewer students in buildings each day and a return to full distance learning.
Cardona wrote that the plan posted online is intended to be fluid and will evolve based on public health data trends.
The department of education said the guidance focuses on safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff; allows all students the opportunity to return to school full time; starting in the fall; monitors the school, students, and staff and, when necessary, and could potentially cancel classes in the future to contain COVID-19 spread; emphasizes equity, access, and support to the students and communities; fosters communication with families, educators, and staff; and factors into decisions about reopening the challenges to the physical safety, social-emotional well-being, and the mental health needs of students when they are not in school. Read the document here.