|Plan announced for the 2020-21 school year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona 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.
In assessing the approach to a required operating model, the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) considered input from school representatives, educators, families, students, educational stakeholders, advocacy organizations, and union representatives. The department conducted a review of nationally and globally published school reopening plans. The importance of access to in-person schooling rose as a priority related to educational opportunities, safety, wellbeing, and social-emotional learning.
In addition to the framework released, SDE plans to release a more detailed guidance document next week that will provide more comprehensive information for school districts.
**Download: Executive summary of Connecticut’s 2020-21 school planning
**Download: Presentation on Connecticut’s 2020-21 school planning
|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;
- Developing 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.
- Transportation operators will need 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.
Monitoring, Containment, and Class Cancellations Plan
- Develop robust monitoring and containment protocols, and class cancellation plans, in the event there are public health indicators that may require temporary closure of the building, such as evidence of community transmission in the school.
- If public health data requires partial reopening, or if schools containment efforts require partial closure, LEAS must prioritize the return of vulnerable learner groups, with specific protocols to increase the in-school population over time until full in person instruction is achieved.
Contact tracing efforts
As Phase 2 of the state’s reopening gets into full swing, contact tracing becomes even more important. State health officials are ramping up their efforts by recruiting more volunteers and training more staff through ContaCT. Aggressive testing and tracing remain critical for containing the spread of the coronavirus.
More information about this effort is available HERE. This is a confidential software system that monitors the health of people affected by Covid-19. Participation is voluntary.
Connecticut ranked as one of the top 5 most innovative states
Connecticut was recently ranked one of the top 5 most innovative states, according to the Bloomberg index. The ranking is based on six equally weighted metrics: research and development intensity, productivity, clusters of companies in technology, STEM jobs, residents with degrees in science and engineering disciplines, and patent activity. Even through these challenging times, our state continues to lead the way!
To read more, please click here.
Community college is free beginning this fall
Attention parents and students! Keeping our commitment to increased access to higher education, Community Colleges across the state will offer free enrollment for residents. The entire enrollment process must be completed by July 15th which includes not only admissions but placement, financial aid and class registration. This could take 1-2 weeks to complete so it's crucial to start the applications soon.
More details and information may be found HERE.
ICYMI: DMV reopening plan
As a reminder, because there are so many affected by this, the DMV has developed a reopening plan. New drivers and drivers looking to register a new vehicle will be allowed to start making appointments at select DMV branches. In addition, road testing has also resumed. Safety precautions and screening processes have been put into place to protect both DMV workers and customers.
For more information or to set up an appointment, please go to: https://portal.ct.gov/dmv/
Road resurfacing project on Route 7 in Sharon, Salisbury, and Canaan
The Connecticut Department of Transportation announced that a milling and resurfacing project will be performed on Route 7 in the towns of Sharon, Salisbury and Canaan from Route 128 to Lime Rock Station Rd.
The project consists of milling and resurfacing a 4.92-mile segment of Route 7. The milling is scheduled to occur on Monday, July 6, 2020 and is anticipated to be completed on Friday, July 10, 2020. The resurfacing of this project is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 and anticipated to be completed on Friday, July 24, 2020.
Motorists can expect delays and one lane alternating traffic. The regular work schedule for this project is 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. The schedule may change depending on weather conditions, and all are advised to drive safely in the vicinity.
Governor Lamont encourages residents to sign up for the state’s CTAlert notification system
Governor Lamont is encouraging Connecticut residents to sign up for CTAlert, the state’s emergency alert system, which provides text message notifications to users. To subscribe, text the keyword COVIDCT to 888-777.
Providing information to Connecticut residents
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including an FAQ and other guidance and resources, residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.
Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance. Relay services can be accessed by calling 7-1-1. Anyone who is out-of-state or using Relay can connect to Connecticut 2-1-1 toll free by dialing 1-800-203-1234. The hotline is intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider.