Current students and recent graduates from both West Haven and New Haven public schools were at the head of the class Friday.
Governor Ned Lamont and State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona held a listening session on returning to school with the ones who will walk the halls each day.
“Getting him to know how we feel as the community of students about going back to school and our views and how we want things to go is good,” said Joshua Ofori-Attah, a senior at West Haven High School.
They all sat for an hour discussing some of their concerns. Neishaly Colon is a 2020 graduate of Career High School and has younger siblings in New Haven schools, and lives with grandparents who have cancer.
“We’re going to be wearing masks but what if someone has it and they’re going to be touching stuff, what then?” she asked.
“Track and trace,” Lamont responded. “You have to help us with that. In elementary, that’s easier because if you have a fifth-grade class, they’re going to stay to themselves. So, if somebody gets sick, we know it’s just those 25 kids who’ve been exposed to that person. In high school, it’s a little more difficult but we’re going to do the best we can.”
Cardona added that the governor pushed for the distance learning option that’s supported by the school system, that’s an alternative to homeschooling.
“For those families that have to make that decision, we respect that, and we don’t judge,” said Cardona, who added children can come back to school when they’re ready.
Colon says the at-home option is helpful.
“I’m glad the option is there but I’m kind of more towards like, everyone should just stay home," Colon said.
The governor answered testing questions from college freshmen, saying university students in residence halls need tests, but not in public schools.
“We’re not going to require it for students, let’s say, at the high school here,” said Lamont. “We have a rate that’s less than one percent so it may not be absolutely necessary at this point.”
Lamont and Cardona both said this is a fluid situation and many things could change as we move toward the fall, and much of that decision making will be left to local schools to decide what’s best for their students.