Dear Norwich Public School Families,
Today we received a preview of the guidance coming early next week on the re-opening of Connecticut Public Schools from Governor Lamont and the Commissioner of Education. While we have not received the specific requirements yet, I wanted to share the broad ideas with you as soon as I received them. Please keep in mind that the information is in draft form and can be subject to change at any time.
Per Governor Lamont and Commissioner Cardona:
- Fall re-opening of CT Schools will include welcoming back of all students and all staff every day in a traditional schedule (no plans for staggering, double sessions, partial day, etc.).
- State epidemiologists are tracking current health data and feel confident that CT schools can reopen in the fall with few restrictions.
- The CT re-opening schools plan is very similar to plans in RI, MA, and VT.
- Districts will be encouraged to maximize distancing where feasible (no plans for stringent requirements keeping folks 6 feet apart, no plans for smaller than typical class sizes, etc.). Try to use larger spaces where possible in lieu of smaller classrooms. Look to maximize space in classrooms so that students can spread out.
- Face coverings will be worn by all students and staff and the only exceptions will be for medical exemptions and when a teacher is instructing from a distance (at the front of the room where the children are not in close proximity). Face coverings must cover the nose and mouth.
- Increased handwashing protocols.
- Increased cleaning and specialized disinfection protocols.
- Transportation-buses loaded close to capacity, increase cleaning of buses and all students and drivers will be required to wear masks.
- No temperature taking is required.
- Districts should try to keep students and staff traveling in cohorts (meaning that they should try not to mix classrooms of students and staff throughout the day where feasible).
- Contingency plans just in case there is an increase in community spread of COVID.
- Parents will be able to elect for their children to remain on some form of distance/remote learning.
While I am sure that you all have many questions (as do I), that is all that we know at this time. We will be establishing an email portal on our NPS district and school websites where parents and staff can send us questions and comments. While we will not be able to respond to those questions individually they will inform future communications to you and they will assist us in formulating our questions and concerns to the State on your behalf.
Rest assured that the Norwich Public Schools have been planning for fall re-opening for over 2 months. Administrators and I have participated in intensive training on planning research and design. We have established a standing planning committee and have broken into 3 sub-groups (Wellness, Operations,
Teaching & Learning) and those committees will design the draft plan for the Norwich Public Schools to submit to the state that is due at the end of July.
We will continue to welcome broad stakeholder feedback. We will continue to be transparent in our communications and we will continue to communicate often. The health and safety of our children and staff will remain our highest priority.
The executive summary and PowerPoint slides from the Governor’s press conference today will be available on our website.
Kristen E. Stringfellow, Ed.D., Superintendent