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Teachers, state education departments battle over new remote learning guidance

One local educator called it “not based in reality.”

HARTFORD, Conn. — The State Education Department released new guidance Tuesday on remote learning and dual instruction for the state, but Connecticut teachers aren’t happy.

Local educators spoke in front of the Capitol Wednesday afternoon in opposition of this guidance, one calling it “not based in reality.” 

Teachers said this new guidance opens up the door to bring back dual instruction, but the state argues it’s giving students more options.

“Giving people permission to do the wrong thing is still just the wrong thing,” said Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA). “I had the privilege of teaching our students through the pandemic. None of the people who wrote this guidance had such experiences.”

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The state said this guidance clarifies the parameters of remote learning, after a new law prohibiting dual-instruction in Connecticut classrooms.

“We believe that all children have an equitable right to the same educational opportunities and this provides those kids in those limited circumstances, to be able to fulfill their desires to access the educational curriculum that they could otherwise not have access to,” countered Michael McKeon, director of Legal and Governmental Affairs for the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE).

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CEA disagreed–they said this new guidance is not equitable and actually jeopardizes the education of the most vulnerable students. 

“When you are dividing your attention between in person and online, those students online don't have that opportunity to engage in that way,” Dias said. “That doesn't satisfy any terms of equity, that does not create an environment that crosses boundaries and creates inclusiveness. It establishes a clear pattern of the haves and the have nots.”

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The state calls claims this guidance opens up the door for dual-instruction models to be brought back a “false narrative.”

“The guidance doesn't do that at all,” said McKeon. “In fact, the guidance reiterates the fact that under state statute, the dual instruction prohibition is in place with respect to those remote learning programs that districts might set up.”

One thing both parties agree on is in-person learning is optimal.

CEA said they’ve been in contact with the Department of Education. The department said they hope to find some common ground moving forward, but for now, CEA said they won’t be satisfied until this guidance is rescinded.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at ewulfhorst@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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