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FOX61 School Resource Center | You Ask. We Answer.

This article will be updated as we learn more from the State of Connecticut, districts and receive updates on their reopening plans.

HARTFORD, Conn. — While many students, families and faculty are preparing to adjust to life back in the classroom, we have received countless questions about plans and precautions in place.

We are compiling guidance from state officials and school districts to keep you informed, as they make plans for the upcoming school year amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Join the FOX61 School Resource Center Facebook Group to discuss back-to-school in Connecticut with other parents and educators.

This article will be updated as more information is available from the State of Connecticut and local school districts.

CEA recommends delaying start of school year 

The Connecticut Education Association revised its Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. The release of the plan is based on new COVID-19 research.

The organization's recommendations included delaying the opening of the school year for two weeks or until mid-September to improve and expand remote learning.

 Read more on the updated Safe Learning Plan, here.

Higher Education

Gov. Lamont released Tuesday recommendations for phased reopenings of Connecticut’s colleges and universities.

Click here to review the full document.

Ansonia Public Schools 

The first day of Ansonia Public Schools will be September 2. The district will operate 177-day schedule for students in a hybrid model

See the Ansonia Public Schools Re-Entry Template here.

Ashford Public Schools

The Ashford Reopening Plan is structured to begin the academic year inviting all students to return to school for full, in-person instruction beginning September 3.

Officials say they are flexible and presenting families with an opt-out option, allowing students to receive distance learning regardless of what other students have chosen.

They are prepared to modify our plan to support a partial reopening or a distance learning approach, or to allow for scaling back at a future date if public health data changes. 

See Ashford School District 2020-2021 Access/Reopening Plan here.

Avon Public Schools

For the months of August and September Avon Public Schools will use a hybrid/cohort rotation schedule. More >>

Avon schools reopened on August 31.

See Avon Public Schools' blueprint for reopening 2020 schools here.

Beacon Falls

Beacon Falls and Prospect Schools (Region 16) start school on September 1. Details of their reopening plan are available here.

Berlin Public Schools

Berlin will begin their first day of school on September 8th after an innitial delay in opening. Learn more here.

Bethany Public Schools

Superintendent Colleen M. Murray said in an August 7 letter sent home to the community that the district remains on track to reopen this Fall with in-person learning.

Officials say families also have the option to choose temporary remote learning for their children and should be prepared to transition into a Hybrid or Remote Learning Phase if, at any time, the rate of transmission increases in the area.

Bethany Public Schools District reopening plan here.

Bethel Public Schools

Officials announced that Bethel Public Schools is planning for a “full, safe, and appropriate” reopening of schools in the fall of 2020, consistent with all applicable executive orders, laws, and regulations.

That includes students and staff returning in the fall for a full-length traditional day of school with necessary guidelines in place, as well as implementation of academic and social-emotional supports accessible for all students to ensure growth and continuous learning.

See Bethel Public Schools District reopening plan here.

Bloomfield Public Schools

Superintendent, Dr. James Thompson said in an August 4 letter sent home to the community that he will continue to update families on new developments and which re-entry plan is selected for Bloomfield. 

Bloomfield Public Schools will now open Tuesday, September 8. The first week of school will have early-dismissal days to support staff training and family reorientation to new health and safety protocols.

See Bloomfield's Fall 2020 Re-Opening Plan options here.

Bolton Public Schools

September 1 is the first Day of School for students with Last Names A-K.

September 2 is the first day of School students with Last Names L-Z.

Bolton Public Schools will be operating a Hybrid school calendar until October 9. Click here for details of that schedule.

Bozrah Public School

Superintendent, Dr. James Thompson said in an August 7 letter sent home to the community that the district will reopen in the hybrid model, including cohorts to maintain as much physical distance as possible.

Officials said they will reassess this decision at the end of September, as their goal is to return to full time instruction in our school. If all goes well, Bozrah will consider a full reopening some time in October.

See Bozrah's Fall 2020 Re-Opening Plan draft here.

Branford Public Schools 

Superintendent, Hamlet Hernandez said in an August 7 letter sent home to the community said the first day for students is now September 9. The district plans to reopen in a hybrid model, with some students returning in September followed by additional students at a future date if determined appropriate based on the status of the virus in the community.

More information about specifics of the hybrid model with a presentation will be available August 18.

Branford's Fall 2020 Re-Opening Plan submitted to CSDE available here.

Bridgeport Public Schools

Update, October 7th: Read Elementary School will be closed until Thursday. Officials did not cite the reason for the closure.

Officials announced that Bridgeport Public Schools plan for a “full, safe, and appropriate” reopening of schools in the fall of 2020.

Superintendent Michael J. Testani said in an August 11 letter sent home to the community that he respects and supports every parent’s decision to send their child to in person class or to remain on a remote learning plan.

See Bridgeport Public Schools Fall 2020 Re-Opening Plan here.

Canterbury Public Schools

Canterbury Public Schools are planning to mobilize a school plan with various models of instruction to allow for the fluid nature of the community's response to the virus.

See Canterbury Public Schools' reopening plan here.

Canton Public Schools

Canton Public Schools has prepared three models of instructions. Face-to-face in-person instruction, a blended learning model and a full distance model if schools need to be closed for an extended period of time.

See Canton Public Schools Re-Opening Plan here.

Cheshire Public Schools 

Cheshire Public Schools are providing two options for families this fall: In-Person and Remote Learning.

See Cheshire Public Schools Re-Opening Plan here.

Chester, Deep River, Essex

Region 4 district schools start school with early dismissal on Tuesday, September 1.

Here's a letter home from the superintendent with updates about the status of the reopening plan.

Clinton Public Schools 

Clinton Public Schools plan to reopen all schools under a 2-Phase Transition Plan. Phase 1 (Weeks 1-5): Hybrid Model and Phase 2 (Week 6): Full, in-person model.

See Clinton Public Schools re-opening plan here.

Colebrook

First day of school for Grades K, 1, 2, 5 was September 1 and the first full day for all students is September 2.

Colchester Public Schools 

*Update as of August 18*

The first day of school for Colchester students has been changed. Day one is now scheduled for Tuesday, September 8, as approved by the Board of Education at a August 17 meeting.

Officials say details are forthcoming.

Coventry Public Schools 

Coventry Public Schools developed three instructional models to prepare for all eventualities should the data change: In-Person, Hybrid and Remote learning.

See Coventry Public Schools re-opening plan here.

Cromwell Public Schools 

Cromwell Public Schools outlines three sub plans: a full reopen plan, a hybrid plan and a virtual learning plan. The first day of school will be August 31.

See Cromwell Public Schools' re-opening plan here. 

Danbury Public Schools

In a letter to parents, staff and students, Danbury school superintendent Dr. Sal V. Pascarella, said Monday that students will start the school year at home.

Pascarella said the decision was due to the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases in Danbury. 

Classes start on Sept. 8. 

See the latest information from Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella here.  

Darien Public Schools

Darien Public Schools developed three instructional models to prepare for all eventualities should the data change: In-Person, Hybrid and Remote learning.

See Darien Public Schools' full re-opening plan here.

East Haven

East Haven Public Schools are slated to head back to school on September 8, according to the districts 2020-2021 academic calendar.

Click here for information on their Reopening Plan and distance learning for students/families opting out of in-person instruction.

Ellington

The Ellington Board of Education adopted a hybrid model for students returning in the fall. 

The BOE releases a statement on August 14 regarding the decision: 

"Move that the Ellington Board of Education endorse the hybrid model as presented and its full implementation starting on September 8, 2020 with a reevaluation date the week of September 28, 2020 with the possibility - assuming favorable health data and other conditions - to move to a full five-day in-person model with a distance learning option starting on October 5, 2020 or another date to be determined as recommended by the Superintendent of Schools."

To find out more about the plan, click here

Glastonbury 

Glastonbury Public Schools heads back to school on August 31. A daycare center has been opened to help teachers and assistants. Learn more here.

Granby

Granby Public Schools are reopening on September 1. Below are links to information for each district school.

Granby Memorial High School

Granby Memorial Middle School 

Wells Road Intermediate School

Kelly Lane Primary School

Griswold

Griswold Public Schools are reopening in a hybrid learning model for the 2020-2021 school year starting September 2.

Click here for information on the district's reopening plan and further information.

Groton 

The largest school district in New London county— plans to approve its hybrid school plan which includes 2 days a week in person, 3 days online.

Special curriculum meeting at 4pm: 

Plan options: 

Running list from Ledyard DTC of what all NL county districts are doing and when they are voting

Hampton

First day of school is Tuesday, September 1. For details of the reopening plan, click here.

Hartford

Hartford Public Schools was forced to postpone their first day of classes (in-person and online) due to a ransomware attack. At this time it's unknown when classes will begin. UPDATE: Tuesday afternoon, Hartford Public Schools announced schools will reopen for Wednesday, Sept 8 and the system has been restored. Click here for the latest.

Their plan, they say, may change as they monitor metrics. At this time they are operating in the yellow column as cases remain low. 

Read more about their back to school plan here.

Killingworth

Killingworth Public Schools (Regional School District 17) go back to school September 1.

Students will start the academic year off in a hybrid model. Click here for the details of that plan.

Ledyard

The start of school for Ledyard Public Schools is September 1. The latest information from the district's superintendent, including the hybrid learning schedule is available here.

Litchfield

Litchfield Public Schools went back to school August 26th. 

They began a staggered reopening phase 1 with schools having half days to get everyone back into the schools. 

Read more about Litchfield's reopening plan.

STAGGERED START OF SCHOOL (BY SCHOOL LOCATION):

August 26th through August 28th (HALF DAYS): 

Goshen Center School, James Morris School, and Warren School 

August 26th - Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade Only 

August 27th - 3 rd and 4th Grade Only 

August 28th - 5 th and 6th Grade Only 

Litchfield Center School 

August 26th - Kindergarten Only 

August 27th - 1 st and 2nd Grade Only 

August 28th - 3 rd Grade Only 

Litchfield Intermediate School 

August 26th - 6 th Grade Only 

August 27th - 5 th Grade Only 

August 28th - 4 th Grade Only 

WAMOGO – LMS – LHS 

August 26th - 7 th and 8th Grade Only 

August 27th - 9 th and 10th Grade Only

August 28th - 11th and 12th Grade Only 

All students will return to school on Monday, August 31st for three half days

Monday, August 31st - All Students (PK-12) – Half Day 

Tuesday, September 1st - All Students (PK-12) – Half Day 

Wednesday, September 2nd - All Students (PK-12) – Half Day

Lyme-Old Lyme 

Lyme-old Lyme will begin classes on Tuesday, September 1.

All information on reopening district schools is available here.  

Manchester 

The fall semester begins on September 8th for Manchester Public Schools. 

The school has a hybrid plan in place. You can see the schedule for that plan here. 

Mercy High School

Mercy High will begin classes on Wednesday, September 2 and students and their families have been provided with a detailed 15-page guide explaining new requirements for the school year. 

Among new changes in the building:

  • Medical screenings to begin each day
  • One-way hallways and stairways
  • Live streaming classes
  • Hands-free water bottle filling stations
  • Ventilation and exhaust in every classroom and bathroom
  • Plexiglass in the main office and other high traffic areas
  • Face masks worn at all times
  • Hand sanitizer throughout the school

According to a release, Mercy has constructed an innovative, flexible set of school day options for the new school year. They include in-person with virtual accommodations (Level 1), a hybrid (Level 2) or a fully online option (Level 3), if public health circumstances make it necessary. In addition, the daily class schedule includes a 40-minute activity period at the end of each day, so that students can meet with teachers, for tutoring, and for students to pursue their interests in the many clubs - on subjects from robotics to business to journalism.

See Mercy's full  Back to School COVID-19 Management Procedures document here.

Meriden

A class cohort at Lincoln Middle School will be quarantined for 14 days after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

Meriden Public Schools head back to school Thursday, September 3. 

Read their back to school plan here.

Middlebury, Southbury (Region 15)

First day of school is Tuesday, September 1 for Grades 1-12

Kindergarten begins Wednesday, September 2.

Click here to see the document that describes the differences between Region 15's Options for the 2020-21 School Year.

Middletown Public Schools

Middletown Public Schools begin classes today, September 3. Superintendent Michael T. Conner, Ed.D. said in an August 6 letter sent home to the community that the district will begin the academic year in a hybrid model.

He said the decision was made based on a comprehensive analysis of our parent survey, input from our Re-entry Task Force that consists of teachers, administrators, and district leaders, and insights from focus group sessions with students.

Information regarding the “yellow plan” can be found on page 57 and page 58 of The Re-Entry: Getting Back to Innovation and Equity.

Milford

Milford Public Schools has their first day on September 8th. 

You can find details on their ReStart plan here.

Montville

The Montville Board of Education on August 6, approved a change from full in-person learning to a hybrid model for the start of the school year.

Click here for details of that model.

On August 18, the BOE voted to change the start of school to September 8.  

New Britain

The consolidated school district of New Britain had delayed their start of school to September 8th. Learn more on their website.

New Fairfield

New Fairfield students head back to school on Wednesday, September 2. All information regarding the reopening plans of district schools is available here.

New Haven 

New Haven Public Schools begin classes September 3. 

They are providing resources for families for remote learning. 

Newtown

Newtown Public School students will return to school starting Thursday, September 3 (Cohort A – in person) and Friday, September 4th (Cohort B- in person).

Click here for the district's cohort schedule details.

Norwalk 

The City of Norwalk announced an initiative to try and help the 7-8 percent of children who did not have high-quality, reliable internet service.

Here's how the initiative is designed to work:

The Connectivity Initiative is structured in three tiers depending on family and student need. 

  1. Tier I provides reliable high-speed internet connection to those who currently lack service. 
  2. Tier II provides digital literacy support for families and students to effectively navigate virtual learning provided by Norwalk Public Schools. 
  3. Tier III provides families and students with personal Family Navigators through the City’s Community Services Department who will help them navigate the social services network and connect them with resources, such as food, health care, and housing.

Families who opt-in for distance learning, non-native English speakers, and families with low incomes will be prioritized.

Learn more here.

Norwich

The school district announced Thursday, October 1 that all Norwich Public Schools will transition to remote learning for two weeks following a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

According to officials, this is community spread and there have been no transmission in the schools, however remote learning is scheduled to continue through Monday, October 19.

RELATED: Norwich Public Schools transition to remote learning for two weeks due to recent COVID-19 spike

Old Saybrook

Old Saybrook Public Schools is set to return for a full, 5-day, in-person reopening on October 5.

Watch Superintendent Jan Perruccio's Back to School Update #5 regarding the school calendar and schedule here.

Pomfret

Pomfret Community School opens for students on Monday, August 31, 2020 on a hybrid model which allows for approximately 50% of students to be in attendance at school daily.

COVID-1- protocols for the school community are available here.

Portland

Portland Public Schools head back on a hybrid model schedule on September 1.

Click here for details of the schedule.

Simsbury

Squadron Line School will not be open until at least September 18th due to a positive student case.

Southington

Southington High School will be remote learning until at least October 13th due to positive cases leading to a substitute shortage.

Thompson

Thompson has two separate start dates: August 31 for in-person learning, and September 8 for distance learning. Learn more here.

Vernon

Vernon Public Schools head back to school on August 31. Learn more about their reopening plan here. Update as of Oct 2: Vernon Elementary Schools announced they will resume fulltime, in-person learning Oct. 13.

Wallingford

Wallingford Public Schools had reported a case at Dag Hammarskjold Middle School. The school will switch to online learning until at least September 16th. 

Learn more on their website. 

Waterbury 

The City of Waterbury announced it will adopt a hybrid learning model for the new school year, which will begin on September 8. 

"Our decision is based on the conversations we facilitated and the enormous amount of input we sought from our families, teachers, staff and community as well as guidance from the Connecticut State Department of Education. These decisions come at a time of unprecedented developments due to COVID-19 and as we rethink how to address the needs of all students in a safe and healthy learning environment," said Superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin. 

WPS plans to have in-person learning during the morning and then distance learning in the afternoon. For students who will not be returning in the fall, they will be offered the Virtual Academy option. 

To view the full plan, click here

Westbrook

Westbrook Public Schools head back to school September 1.

Click here for details of the district's reopening plan and hybrid schedule.

West Hartford 

Westport Public Schools is currently operating  in a hybrid model for K-12 students. Click here for the latest updates.

Westport

The West Board of Education said on August 19, has released a plan to reopen its schools in September. A "Frequently Asked Questions" button will also be added to their website for parents. 

The Superintendent also called for each school principal to create a team of teachers, administrators, and other staff members to identify that schools particular needs for the school year. 

To view the plan, click here

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August 13 BOE Meeting: We will hear the most recent revisions to the reopening plans as well as the Superintendent’s recommendation for which plan to implement for the first day of school. We will also consider a COVID response funding request to the Board of Finance. Ensuring that necessary resources are available in a way that ensures flexibility and responsiveness will be key to our success this year. We expect the Board of Finance to take up this request at a special meeting on August 19.

August 17 BOE Meeting: We expect to vote on which plan will be implemented for the first day of school.

Shortly after the August 13 meeting our administration will be soliciting parental intentions for schooling and transportation.

Once school is back in session, we plan to resume in person meetings of the BOE. We are working out how to hold these meetings in a way that maintains good public health protocols and we will share more information with you as that first in person meeting approaches.

Governor Lamont — State of Connecticut

Gov. Lamont announced Thursday, August 6 that the state is committing a $266 million package to support school districts safely reopening in the fall, saying "We've got your back and putting our money where our mouth is."

According to a release, the Coronavirus Relief Funds will complement the $15 million already committed from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) and $111 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds, bringing the total funding for Connecticut schools to $266 million – one of the largest PK-12 state funding plans per-student in the country.

Gov. Lamont says the grants are an essential component to providing the best possible educational opportunities during this uncertain time.

The $266 million has been allocated for:

  • Academic and staff support
  • Student support
  • PPE/Building Cleaning
  • Transportation
  • Technology/Devices/Connectivity

RELATED: Connecticut commits $266 million to help schools safely reopen this fall

Guidance from state officials regarding schools reopening include the following:

  • Districts should prepare to open every day for full-time instruction at the beginning of 2020-2021 academic year, so long as public health data continues to support this model.
  • Students in grades K-8 should be placed in cohorts, and the grouping is encouraged where feasible for grades 9-12.
  • All staff and students expected to wear a protective face covering or face mask that completely covers the nose and mouth when inside the school building, except for certain exceptions including when teachers are providing instruction.
  • Review building space and reconfigure available classroom space, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, to maximize social distancing, consistent with public health guidelines in place at that time.
  • Buses should operate close to capacity with heightened health and safety protocols.All students and operators required to wear face coverings. Social distancing required on buses.

RELATED: Connecticut reviews plans for school districts to reopen; shares results of back to school survey

According to officials, the plan was developed by a series of surveys with over 23,000 citizens and 16,000 students.

RELATED: 'For the teachers, you gotta know I got your back' | Governor Lamont discusses reopening schools

RELATED: Gov. Lamont discusses students returning back to school

RELATED: Detailed plan on Connecticut’s back to school protocol released Monday

RELATED: Back to School | Connecticut releases framework for students to return to school in fall

RELATED: Gov. Lamont announces the Everybody Learns Initiative to help close the digital divide in remote learning

  • Gov. Ned Lamont announced the Everybody Learns Initiative during a news conference in Waterbury. The $45 million initiative is designed to close the digital divide, helping students in under-served communities receive easier access to technology during remote learning.
  • Gov. Lamont announced as part of the initiative, the state is acquiring another 50,000 Chromebooks. The devices are to be used those students who aren’t comfortable coming back to the classroom. Gov. Lamont said they will not be left behind and there will be resources available to help make the best use of the Chromebooks. Lamont added that the state is working to establish 200 hot spots around the state, which would include areas like community centers and libraries.

RELATED: Customers complaining about rising electric bills

The State of Connecticut said its back to school plan and guidance are grounded in the six following guiding principles:

  1. Safeguarding the health & safety of students and staff
  2. Allowing all students the opportunity to return into the classrooms full time starting in the fall
  3. Monitoring the school populations and, when necessary, potentially cancelling classes in the future to appropriately contain COVID-19 spread
  4. Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities who are emerging from this historic disruption
  5. Fostering strong two-way communication with partners such as families, educators and staff
  6. Factoring into decisions about reopening, the challenges to the physical safety and social-emotional

Connecticut Education Association

The CEA also released its Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

According to the organization's website, they strongly advocate that the state amend its plan to include their guidance, as to safety in education for all students, and all teachers and staff.

"Any return to the classroom must be done in full compliance with expert health and safety guidelines," they wrote. "In addition, Connecticut must enhance its plans for remote learning for at-risk students and teachers, which will be necessary for some under any scenario, and may be necessary for all if circumstances warrant."

The Connecticut Education Association's six recommended requirements for the fall are as follows:

  1. Do not open school buildings if Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and public health and safety requirements cannot be met.
  2. For any school reopening, guarantee that funding for COVID-related expenses will be provided by the state so that all school districts can meet the CDC and public health and safety requirements.
  3. Recognize and address the risks for students, teachers, and staff in school during a pandemic.
  4. Understand that moving the economy forward is dependent on the safety of schools, not on the mere reopening of schools.
  5. Allow schools to begin the school year through distance/remote learning where necessary; for any in-class learning, require that districts reduce density and allow staggered schedules to meet CDC and public health and safety requirements.
  6. Institute testing for all students, teachers, and staff who return to school, once per week, and institute contact tracing protocols.

Click here to read more from the CEA.

New Haven Board of Education

The Board of Education in the Elm City outlined a daily cleaning schedule to help mitigate the risk of infection:

  • Restrooms cleaned at 9AM, 11AM, 1PM and after dismissals (unoccupied time) 
  • Soap dispensers and towels filled according to restroom cleanings. 
  • Common touchpoints spray/wipe continuously as per checklist 
  • Meals in classrooms teachers to assist with proper trash disposal 
  • Pre-K toys & play equipment disinfected throughout the day and each night 
  • Water fountains shut off and bagged 
  • Classroom & bathroom doors remain open 
  • Students leave desktops clear at the end of day 
  • Staff to utilize disinfecting wipes to periodically 
  • Hand sanitizers to be placed in all rooms 
  • Signage throughout the school reminding everyone to physically distance & hand wash

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Click here for a list of FAQs released by the State Department of Education for parents.

Below is the PDF summary of the State of Connecticut's fall reopening model.

RELATED: Connecticut State Department of Education releases FAQ for parents about the plan to reopen schools

RELATED: Concerns over school reopening taken to Gov. Lamont

RELATED: Hartford schools prepare to reopen for fall