As states around the country have closed schools for the year, Connecticut is still undecided. May 20 is the earliest schools could reopen, but as that date approaches The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) is urging caution.
In an editorial posted on its website Thursday, CEA President Jeff Leake wrote, “Our leaders must continue to listen to the advice of top health experts and not succumb to pressure to reopen public schools and businesses prematurely. Easing up on social distancing too quickly could be deadly.”
Prioritizing safety, the CEA is suggesting several dramatic changes schools could make prior to any return. These include social distancing protocols in classrooms, cafeterias and hallways. This, along with, daily school disinfections and PPE for students and staff.
“We want to make sure that when schools do reopen that all those considerations have been taken into account,” said Leake.
Superintendents around Connecticut are contemplating those options and more, including gradually reintroducing student populations.
“I’m not 100 percent convinced all students can come back together,” said Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.
The daily routine and weekly schedule could also change.
“Perhaps it's split sessions. Perhaps it’s every other day. Perhaps it’s two weeks on and two weeks with virtual learning,” explained Rabinowitz.
While schools may look different when students do return, the priorities will remain the same.
“We’re going to continue keeping the values of keeping kids safe. Keeping our educators safe and learning,” said Nathan Quesnel, East Hartford superintendent of schools.
As for the May 20 date of a possible return, those who spoke with NBC Connecticut said they are planning as if they’ll be out the rest of the year, which is the same recommendation Leake said he gave the governor when he spoke with him earlier this week.
“He asked me directly if I thought schools could consider reopening by the end of the year,” said Leake. “I pretty much said, no. I don’t think that’s possible.”