NEW BRITAIN – Gov. Ned Lamont and CT State Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona announced Thursday all school districts throughout the state will be fully reopening for the 2020-21 school year for students in grades K-12.
Their full report, which will include safety guidelines and recommendations, will be released Monday. Safety measures will range from mandatory face masks for students, frequent hand-washing and teachers to the recommended “cohorting” of students with one teacher to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus.
Lamont said Connecticut currently appears on track for a safe reopening of schools in late August and early September, considering the state has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the U.S.
“My number one principal metric was the public health lens,” Lamont said. “Just like we said about reopening our businesses, nothing makes any sense unless people feel like they’re safe and they are safe.”
Lamont signed an executive order March 17 that directed in-person classes at all K-12 schools in the state be canceled, leaving students in Connecticut out of the classroom for months. That thrust students and educators into a new world of online learning for the rest of the school year and now into another new world of in-school learning with tremendous precaution.
“Our priority, as always, is to create a welcoming and safe environment that promotes academic learning,” New Britain schools Superintendent Nancy Sarra said. “We will continue to do everything we can to keep our students and staff safe, comfortable and healthy.”
Sarra said they have been planning for the upcoming school year the past several months with numerous committees, including health, facilities, academics, personnel and more. The New Britain school district will also be working with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and other consultants to provide guidance to school districts, including how to best implement safety and social distancing measures.
“However, even with all of the enhanced safety measures that will be put into place for the 2020-21 school year, we understand that some families may not be comfortable having their children returning in August. With that in mind, we are working on a plan to offer remote learning opportunities to those who choose to keep their children home,” Sarra said.
Sarra said they plan to remain in constant communication with parents, including virtual town halls, to help ease any concerns as much as possible and answer any questions that parents may have.
“We will continue to consult with the CSDE, DPH, New Britain Health Department and other experts as we continue our planning,” Sarra said. “We will have a final report detailing what the upcoming school year will look like by August 1. At that time, we will make it publicly available so you can have ample time to plan accordingly.”