|Back to School
Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona today announced details of the framework to allow all students – in all school districts statewide – the opportunity to have access to in-school, full-time instruction at the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year, as long as public health data continues to support this model. While Connecticut has determined reopening schools for in-person instruction can be achieved based upon the state’s successful COVID-19 containment efforts, this model will be supported with more intensive mitigation strategies and specific monitoring, containment, and class cancellation plans.
Framework for Connecticut Schools During the 2020-21 Academic Year
As Connecticut schools plan to reopen, the guidance and considerations outlined in this framework are grounded in six guiding principles:
- Safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff;
- Allowing all students the opportunity to return into the classrooms full time starting in the fall;
- Monitoring the school populations and, when necessary, potentially cancelling classes in the future to appropriately contain COVID-19 spread;
- Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities who are emerging from this historic disruption;
- Fostering strong two-way communication with partners such as families, educators and staff; and
- Factoring into decisions about reopening the challenges to the physical safety and social-emotional well-being of our students when they are not in school.
These guiding principles require all districts to develop their plans with a certain level of consistency, however they retain wide discretion in implementing approaches to reopening given unique local considerations. School districts must balance their planning with contingency plans to provide robust, blended learning or remote learning for all grades in the event that a school, district, or region has to cancel or limit in-person classes due to health precautions.
Main Operational Considerations
- Districts should emphasize grouping students by the same class/group of students and teacher (into a cohort) so each team functions independently as much as possible. Consider this methodology by grade levels.
- Placing students in cohorts is strongly encouraged for grades K-8, and encouraged where feasible for grades 9-12.
Social Distancing and Facilities
- Review building space and reconfigure available classroom space, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, to maximize social distancing, consistent with public health guidelines in place at that time.
- Districts should plan for buses to operate close to capacity with heightened health and safety protocols, including requiring all students and operators wear face coverings.
- Plans must be developed to activate increased social distancing protocols based upon community spread.
- All staff and students will be expected to wear a protective face covering or face mask that completely covers the nose and mouth when inside the school building, except for certain exceptions including when teachers are providing instruction.
Ensuring Equity and Access
- Equitable access to education is a top priority that supports a full-time in-school model by mitigating any barriers to education or opportunity gaps that increased during the pandemic. Efforts to support equity, close the opportunity gap, and provide a wide range of support for students in the state is best achieved with in-person schooling opportunities for all ages.
- Districts should identify gaps and develop action plans for reopening that specifically address inclusion, equity, and access for all learners with strategies and clearly defined action steps.