Connecticut schools reopening plan grounded by 6 guiding principles; includes 7 priorities

The Connecticut State Department of Education has outlined its plan for reopening schools in the fall.

The guidance and considerations outlined in the state's reopening document are grounded in six guiding principles:

1. Safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff.

2. Allowing all students the opportunity to return to school full time starting in the fall.

3. Monitoring the school, students, and staff and, when necessary, potentially canceling classes in the future to appropriately contain the COVID-19 spread.

4. Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities that are emerging from this historic disruption.

5. Fostering strong two-way communication with partners such as families, educators, and staff.

6. Factoring into decisions about reopening the challenges to the physical safety, social and emotional well-being, and the mental health needs of students when they are not in school.
MORE: Gov. Lamont discusses fall reopening plans for schools with students

The plan also includes the seven priorities below:

1. Operational model:
• Prepare to initiate in-school instruction accessible to the full student
population.

• Plan for educational opportunities to be primarily in-person, but allow for
students and parents to choose not to participate based upon individual
considerations.

• Establish a continuum of strategies for implementation of in-person schooling that anticipates potential alternative programs and robust blended learning if future public health data requires class cancellations. This will require engagement of contingent plans for blended learning, including but not limited to a mix of remote blended learning, synchronous and asynchronous class meetings, and other educator and staff outreach to students. Remote learning is defined as situations where students and educators are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment, and where instruction is relayed through technology, e.g., learning management systems.

2. Equity:
• 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.

3. Cohorts:
• 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.

4. Facilities:
• Prioritize collection of data from families to confirm the intent to participate, as that may affect facilities and operations planning.

• 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.

• Review community and municipal spaces with local stakeholders to determine additional capacity and availability if school building space is inadequate. Technical support will be available as needed.

5. Transportation:
• Plan for buses to operate close to capacity with heightened health and
safety protocols, including requiring all students and operators wearing face coverings. Plans must be developed to activate increased social distancing protocols based upon community spread.

6. Health and Safety Policies and Protocols:
• Expect all students and staff to wear a protective face covering or face mask that completely covers the nose and mouth when inside the school building, allowing for certain exceptions.

7. 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, 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.

Read more on the guidelines here.
Find your school’s reopening plan:
Amity Regional School District