CONNECTICUT — Gov. Ned Lamont clarified the state’s process for reopening schools Thursday. School districts will be able to choose between a full in-person experience or a hybrid plan without seeking state approval. Lamont also indicated that high school football will likely be canceled this fall.
Lamont also weighed in on President Donald Trump’s recent remarks about possibly delaying the presidential election.
“We are ready the states are ready and it’s a really lousy idea,” Lamont said.
Districts that want full remote learning at the beginning of the school year can apply for an exception from the state Department of Education, but Lamont is urging school districts to have at least a hybrid option.
The state is continuing to develop guidance for teachers who don’t want to return to the classroom due to conditions that could put them at an increased risk of severe coronavirus complications. It may be that teachers teach remotely and an apprentice teacher is in the classroom, Lamont said.
Any parent who is uncomfortable with sending their children back to the classroom can opt for full remote learning.
Decisions to go back to the classroom come at a time where Connecticut and many other parts of the United States are seeing a growing number of infections among young people. The number of coronavirus cases among people between the ages of 10 and 19-years-old in Connecticut doubled in the past week, Lamont said. There is also a growing number of infections for people between 20 and 29-years-old.
Lamont said it is crucial that parents explain to their children the importance of mask use and proper social distancing; it’s also important for them to avoid large parties that can become superspreader events. Rhode Island and New Jersey governors are making the same warnings.
“I’m not picking on New Jersey and Rhode Island, we’ve had some of these parties ourselves and we are watching it like a hawk,” Lamont said.
The governor’s comments were more measured than his New Jersey counterpart Gov. Phil Murphy who said young people who were risking exposure at house parties are vying for spots in the Knucklehead Hall of Fame.
The state will provide detailed metric guidelines next week for school districts to help decide between the options. Right now the state’s low transmission and positive test rate support having students in the classroom.
However, Lamont is still making the case for a full return to the classroom in most cases, especially for the lower grades where distance learning is more difficult.
Between 25 and 32 percent of Connecticut students didn’t participate in remote learning from March to June. One of the biggest factors was a lack of parental support and supervision.
Other reasons Lamont cited for a need to return to the classroom include: “Remote learners learned significantly less than in-school — Risk falling further behind. According to American Association of Pediatrics extended school closures increase risk of depression and morbidity. According to CDC, in-person school is preferred for its supportive service offering, healthy meals and safe community.”
Several countries with low coronavirus transmission rates were able to successfully reopen their schools without seeing a bump in cases, said Ezekiel Emanuel Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
Emanuel said during Lamont’s news conference that schooling is just as essential for children in the 21st century as food and proper nutrition.
It is highly likely that high school football is simply too risky for this year, Emanuel said.
“Contact sports are not a good idea… the NFL is going to try it with a bubble, you can’t have a bubble in high school,” he said.
That is especially true now that there are an increasing number of teenagers who are being infected with the virus, he said.
Some states like New York are going to try and push back the start of the football season, but the coronavirus situation likely won’t be very different anytime soon in the United States, Emanuel said. Even under the most optimistic scenarios a coronavirus vaccine likely won’t be fully deployed in the United States until the fall of 2021, he said.
Nearby, more than 500 teachers, staff and parents gathered in a West Hartford parking lot Thursday demanding increased health and safety measures and guaranteed state funding for school reopenings, the Hartford Courant reported. The protest was one of 25 statewide, organized by teachers unions AFT Connecticut and the Connecticut Education Association. The rally was followed by a “School Safety First” car caravan to the Governor’s Residence in Hartford.
See also: Dunkin’ Could Close 800 Stores Across U.S.: What Will Happen To CT Locations
This article originally appeared on the Across Connecticut Patch