As we move into August, parents are wondering what the school year will bring. On Thursday, the Wallingford Board of Education heard what distance learning will look like for those who choose it. A lot of the instruction will be live and synchronized so those in-class and attending virtually learn at the same time.
“We don’t want our students to be on camera seven hours in a row without any breaks,” said Carrie Latorre, assistant superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction at Wallingford Public Schools.
To that end, there will be flex time, which allows for breaks, one-on-one sessions, group sessions, or individual work times. In addition, the district will provide devices for all students and hot spots will be available. The BOE approved the plan as well as delaying the start of school by a few days to September 3, a Thursday. That Thursday and Friday will also have an early release to ease students into the new normal and allow teachers to work out any issues.
The overall plan to return kids to school hasn’t been finalized.
“We're not delaying the decision because we're trying to be deliberately difficult or frustrate people or upset people. It's just, you can all imagine, there's a lot coming at us at different points, and we want to make sure we're respectful when we make that final decision and we present it to the board for your approval that it's really the final decision,” said Superintendent Dr. Salvatore Menzo.
In a letter, the superintendent says he’s meeting with the education commissioner on Friday to talk more about the flexibility districts are now being given between having an in-person and hybrid experience. In addition, the superintendent says he’ll be speaking with the local health director and that a memo will go out to parents on Friday that includes a link for the online-learning plan and an explanation of the calendar. On Monday, he says a survey will go out to parents to find out how many children will take part in distance learning as well as what the transportation needs will be.
On Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont stressed the importance of in-person learning saying that up to 32% of students in the state didn’t participate in remote learning from March to June, that remote learners learn significantly less, and that the socialization and social services schools provide are key.
Officials say weekly infection and transmission rates in the state will impact the educational environment but that right now the metrics look good.
If a district wants 100% distance learning, that will require state approval.