Parent/Guardian Update - December 31, 2021

Parent/Guardian Update - December 31, 2021
Posted on 01/03/2022

Good Afternoon Parents and Guardians,

My office continues to receive numerous inquiries about our post holiday break school plans in light of the ongoing uptick in COVID cases locally, statewide, and nationally.  Below please find the current information I have after conversations with state legislators, the Office of the Commissioner of Education, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) as well as state and local health officials:

-school will fully reopen on Monday, January 3 

-currently school superintendents are not legally able to implement a full remote (or hybrid) program without legislative or gubernatorial action

-all COVID protocols including enhanced cleaning will continue to be implemented

-our current protocols for quarantining and Screen and Stay will remain in place, although the State Department of Education may adopt the new CDC guidelines soon

We have not yet received our testing kits from the Federal Government, nor do we have guidelines as to how they are to be used in schools. I will keep you posted as to any implications they may have for school operations.

Many parents continue to express confusion or concern about the use of quarantining versus Screen and Stay. Our goal is to keep students and staff safely in school as much as possible. Therefore, we use Screen and Stay as our first choice when students have been exposed to a COVID positive individual at school. In fact, our contact tracing data shows that the vast majority of COVID cases are not the result of school based spread. However, if we have reason to believe that school based spread has occurred or is likely to occur, we do not utilize Screen and Stay and a class or group of students is quarantined. In some cases this may mean part of the class is on Screen and Stay and part of the class is quarantined. Again, we spend hours analyzing data to make this determination in the best interest of the health and safety of staff and students.

My office has also heard ongoing concerns from families about the perception that some students have a different educational experience while quarantined. This may be true for the following reasons:

-if an entire class is quarantined, the teacher can spend more time with online instruction as all their attention can be focused on the quarantined students 

-if some members of the class are on Screen and Stay while others are quarantined, teachers do their best to provide instruction to those at home. Regardless, students have the equivalent of 50% of a school day’s worth of programming. Some of this will be independent work.

-we are organizing an additional cadre of tutors to support those students at home. They will be primarily assigned to students in the younger grades who have more difficulty with independent work

-at the elementary level (when the class is not fully quarantined), teachers have committed to quarantined students participating in morning meeting and at least one additional check in per day by the teacher or a tutor

-we have also asked teachers to focus on helping students acclimate after holiday break and focus on social/emotional well being, so the initial workload next week may lighter than usual

-teachers are allowed up to one school day to prepare and post independent work for students once they are quarantined

I can appreciate everyone’s extreme frustration with the ongoing challenges of the Pandemic. Please be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep students and staff  safely in school. Our school nurses and administrators are literally working 24/7 to make the best possible decisions about the use of Screen and Stay or the need for quarantine. They are diligent and thorough in their work and don’t make any decisions without careful consideration of all available information.

As always, I will keep everyone fully informed of any changes to school operations. 

I hope everyone has an enjoyable remainder of our holiday break and most importantly a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Be Well,

Maureen Brummett, Ed.D

Superintendent of Schools