connecticut schools

Educators Oppose State's New Remote Learning Guidance

Members of Connecticut's Education Association are calling on the state to revoke a pandemic-born education practice.

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Educators across the state are against a pandemic-born teaching practice that may make its way back to the classroom.  

It's known as dual instruction, which causes teachers to instruct students in-person and online at the same time. 

The proposed guidance follows a 2022 law passed by the legislature that prohibits dual teaching as part of remote learning. On Tuesday, the Department of Education released exceptions or "certain, limited situations in which such instruction is permissible."

The DOE is proposing that dual instruction be an optional online component among school districts to accommodate students with learning disabilities or those who are absent due to illness. It also outlines dual instruction as a tool for intra-district and inter-district learning.

"This allows them to monitor the class and helps them maximize their continuity of instruction. It enables them to make the same progress their classmates are," said Michael McKeon, the education department's Director of Legal and Governmental Affairs.

Members of Connecticut's Education Association, the state's largest teacher's union, gathered on the Capitol steps Wednesday, calling on the state to revoke this reccomendation.

"You cannot split a teacher in half like that. It's unacceptable," said CEA President Kate Dias.

Dias says dual instruction divides the teacher's attention between classroom and screen. 

"When I walk into a classroom and I know it's dual, is loads up three different devices. One so that the students can see me. One so I can see the students, and one so I can interact," said Dias.

Former Westport teacher Faith Sweeney knows what it is like to teach remotely. After more than twenty years in the classroom, she found herself teaching kindergarten behind a screen during the pandemic.

"It was really a tough experience. I had to think about how am I going to engage them and build a connection with them," said Sweeny.

Sweeney is also one of many teachers who has had to cover the costs of dual instruction by paying for monitors, computers, and better internet connection. Members of the CEA along with AFT Connecticut say the model decreases student engagement and creates more work for teachers. 

"We just can't do both at once. And I think that's the piece that this guidance is so flawed regarding. Asking teachers to do two things at the same time, you will assure that we water down both experiences," said Dias.

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