Many are concerned about COVID-19 cases really taking off during the next several months, especially with the holidays.
But the state argues facts not fear should guide whether school districts switch to fully remote learning.
In an apparent message to superintendents, the state education commissioner and public health acting commissioner wrote in part that:
“In-person education is too important for our children to disrupt their education further, unless and until local conditions dictate the need to do so.”
They recommend districts should not proactively close schools based on what might happen in the future, especially after Thanksgiving and that so far mitigation strategies are working with little transmission in the schools.
“What superintendents have said to me is, ‘I don’t want to close because I’m worried. I want to close because I have the data that says I have to close,’” said Fran Rabinowitz, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents executive director.
Already some entire school districts have switched or are considering going to fully remote amid staffing challenges and rising COVID-19 cases numbers in the state.
Hamden school leaders worry about coronavirus cases really taking off after Thanksgiving and want to give parents as much time as possible to prepare for a move to virtual classes.
Hamden is set to vote on Tuesday on whether to switch to all remote.
The state commissioners acknowledge districts might need to take action including because of staffing shortages and they should work with their local health departments as they figure out what to do.
The Connecticut Education Association says schools should be careful going forward so there aren’t outbreaks.
“We know based on the science that children do get it, they shed it in much higher degrees than adults do. So we know they can spread that very effectively,” said Donald Williams, Connecticut Education Association executive director.
We reached out to the state Education and Public Health departments but have not yet heard back.