VERNON, CT — Vernon public school officials are considering three scenarios for reopening schools for the 2020-21 academic year and are offering the public a chance to weigh in on them.
Vernon Superintendent of Schools Joseph Macary submitted them to the state Friday and was hoping for an answer from state officials for an Aug. 1 public release. But it all became vastly more open-ended Monday when Gov. Ned Lamont switched gears and said the state will not officially dictate when and how schools would resume. The flip-flop left local school officials, who were anticipating a uniform policy statewide, deciding on their own how to proceed.
Lamont said he will likely have to push the coronavirus public health emergency past the scheduled Sept. 9 expiration date for flexibility purposes.
“We hope that everyone is staying healthy and being safe during this summer season,” Macary said in a letter distributed to families, faculty members and staffers . “Now, more than ever, remember — Let’s take this situation one day at a time and we will get through it together.”
Macary said the local school system’s health and safety committee has been “working all summer” on re-opening plans for August. The committee consists of representatives from all seven schools as well as personnel from the building facilities, health services, food and nutrition, logistics and safety, human resources, risk management departments, the medical adviser and “all other district operations needed to successfully open schools.”
“Our goal is to have a healthy and safe reopening of our schools for all students and staff,” Macary said. “Vernon Public Schools continues to receive guidance from the State Department of Education and the Connecticut Department of Public Health on a fall 2020 reopening plan for schools. The States’ priorities are monitoring health data metrics, face coverings for all students and staff, and proper cohorting of students – all designed to mitigate the risk of spreading the COVID-19.
“Vernon Public Schools has already taken steps to ensure healthier and safer schools like hand sanitizers in all our classrooms, social distancing desks and chairs, limited movement of students, no public access to the buildings, and additional custodians cleaning common areas during the day. Please note that we are still in the planning phase of re-opening for the fall based on guidance from the State Department of Education and Department of Public Health.”
Here is a summary of the of the three reopening plans:
Plan A – In-Person: 5 Days a week for all students. Students will return to school and follow adapted practices and procedures such as face coverings, cohorting (common groups), social distancing, limited classroom movement, and regular hand washing. Schools will follow the CDC Guidelines for school operations and safety.
Plan B – Hybrid Model: Students will attend schools (in-person) in cohorts (likely by alphabet) two days a week and one day with virtual learning. The other two days, students would have assignments and academic tasks to compete virtually for their classes. The plan will allow for 50 percent of the students to be in schools at any one time (two days in school, a day of virtual learning while the building is cleaned and two days of independent study). In addition, provisions will be made for our special education alternative programs.
Plan C – Virtual Learning (formerly distance learning). The plan is similar to the distance learning plan used in the spring. This fall the instruction will be synchronous – meaning that it will happen in actual time. Students will be on-line with their devices during regularly scheduled school hours with their teachers.
At the elementary level, teachers for special courses of study like art and music will visit respective classrooms. Teachers will rotate at the middle school. Macary said high school cohorting “could be problematic,” while adding it is still being evaluated.
Parents are being asked to review the details of each plan and complete a survey ( https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VPSReopeningPlan ) by Aug. 4.
Macary said a decision will be made as soon as possible.
This article originally appeared on the Vernon Patch