SOUTHINGTON â€“ Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan has been working hard to listen to parentsâ€™ concerns and to craft a school reopening plan that meets state guidelines.
Superintendents statewide have been putting together plans for how schools could reopen with 100% of students back, a hybrid model with 50% in class and 50% using distance learning and a plan where all students are distance learning.
â€śIt has been a tremendous amount of work,â€ť Connellan said. â€śWe have approximately 115 members of our staff at all levels â€“ administrators, paraprofessionals, teachers and support staff working on this. We have separate subcommittees for things like remote and blended learning and facilities is its own subcommittee. Weâ€™ve also asked parents to tell if whether they believe they want their children to return to school and whether they will be using our transportation. This has been valuable information for us.â€ť
Connellan said of the parents who have provided him with feedback, 82% of them want to bring their children back to in-person classes. Yet, the remaining 18% want their children to continue learning remotely.
Connellan said state officials are primarily concerned with K to 8 students being 100% back in classes while high school is more flexible.
â€śI have been advocating for flexibility at the high school level,â€ť Connellan said. â€śI donâ€™t know how we could put 2,000 students into a high school building designed in 1975 under distancing guidelines.â€ť
Still, Connellan is doing what he can to help accommodate students when they return. Non-essential furniture is being removed from classrooms so that desks can be more spread out. Additionally, students will â€ścohort.â€ť
â€śA student, instead of going to different rooms for each class, will now have the art teacher, English teacher and math teacher coming to them,â€ť he said.
However, Connellan stressed students will not be stuck at their desks for six hours every day. There will be opportunities to take classes outside when possible and â€śmask breaksâ€ť built into the schedule.
Connellan said he has been receiving feedback from parents and working to provide them with updates each week where he addresses concerns.
â€śAt the elementary school level, parents mostly want to see what the rooms look like and what health precautions we are taking,â€ť he said. â€śAt the middle school and high school level they want to know how we will make sure kids wear their masks and what their programs will look like.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.