HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Education Association has revised its Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. The release of the plan is based on new COVID-19 research.
CEA’s recommendations include:
• Delaying the opening of the school year for two weeks or until mid-September to improve and expand remote learning
• Changing state policy and recommending all-remote learning for all districts that have a moderate or high infection rate, or an inability to maintain six feet of social distancing or other safety considerations • Paying strict attention to equity in all decisions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on students, teachers, administrators, staff, and their families
• Protecting and providing accommodations for at-risk students, teachers, and staff
• Increasing funding to districts for COVID-related expenses
• Implementing a comprehensive, school-centered contact tracing program to help mitigate any exposures to the virus, and for any in-class learning, providing COVID-19 testing for all students and adults as soon as practicable, with results in 24 hours or less
• Upgrading school air handling (HVAC) systems to improve air quality and protect health
“The primary consideration to any school reopening plan must be the safety, health, and well-being of students, teachers, and their families,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “The state must revise school reopening plans to protect our school communities, especially in light of new reports confirming that children can readily transmit COVID-19 and may be drivers of the pandemic. Remote learning is still the safest option. Any return to the classroom requires additional precautions, including strict social distancing and access to COVID-19 testing, that are not currently included in the state plan.”
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Rob Blanchard, a spokesperson for Governor Lamont's office released a statement in response to the CEA saying:
"Connecticut continues to lead the nation in our efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and keep cases drastically low. While the virus hasn’t gone away, we have put in place plans and guidelines that keep students and staff safe, while also doing our best to provide our young people with access to an education that prepares them for the future. After schools closed last spring, 176,000 Connecticut students did not log on for a single day of distanced learning. Although we’ve since taken significant steps to equip students to learn from home, we also know that nothing compares to safe, high-quality, in-person education with the nation’s best teachers and other education professionals. Ensuring we do not have a lost year of education, the Lamont administration collaborated with public health and medical experts, educators, and local school administration leaders to protect the health and safety of everyone who makes contact with our school system."
The Hartford Federation of Teachers also released a statement addressing the return to schools on Monday: