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Sen. Blumenthal joins educators, parents to discuss lack of technology for students

The lack of WiFI and technology puts students at a disadvantage in comparison to their peers while classes are online.

HARTFORD, Conn — When COVID-19 forced schools in the state to move to virtual classrooms, an issue that had already existed was magnified. 

The lack of internet and technology for some students at home has caused students to not keep up with their classes, putting them at a severe disadvantage in comparison with others.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, and Hartford educators will talk with parents Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. to discuss what they call the "homework gap".

According to the Connecticut State Department of Education, 50,000 students do not have access to a device, and 29,000 students do not have access to reliable WiFi, said Sen. Blumenthal. 

Sen. Blumenthal says he is working with his colleagues to ensure students across Connecticut have access to reliable internet and computers.

The topic of reopening schools is one of the most talked-about issues of the pandemic. Monday marked the first day back for classes in Norwalk after a positive COVID test from someone at the high school. 

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It's also the first day back open at the Longshore Sailing School in Westport after infection there. And that’s just talking about summer school.

Gov. Ned Lamont said, "We’ve configured the schools around different cohorts so one 5th grade class doesn’t hang out with everyone else in the middle school. If there is an infection it would be limited just to those 25 kids."

But it’s not one size fits all. Magnet schools for example bus in students from all across the state, which may make contact tracing more difficult.

 "Magnet schools have a little different configuration as you point out so I’d love to hear what they have to say," said the Governor.

He will get that feedback by July 24th at the latest. That's the deadline for districts to submit three implementation plans to the state. One plan for a full reopening, another plan for all distance learning, and a hybrid model of the two. 

Despite top state and educational leaders holding a digital town hall held last week aimed to address educator and parent concerns, viewers overwhelmed our social media platforms with more comments and concerns. Dani wrote to us on Facebook, “Education MUST go on, whether that’s online or public schooling. We need to figure something out!” 

Melanie said, “I don’t think schools should reopen it’s to dangerous think about it. In the past when kids usually go back to school before this pandemic they get sick from colds and the flu because they sneeze and cough all over the place.” 

And Theresa said, “I think CT schools should open 6 weeks later. To see what happens to other states.” Gov. Lamont says, "If the metrics change in this state and region you take a second look. Public health and safety for our kids and teachers is job number 1, 2, and 3."

The public health news is encouraging in the state but the pandemic is far from over. FOX61 asked Governor Lamont if he’s in favor of hazard pay for teachers like nursing homes and grocery workers.

 "Were talking to the teachers. I have to do everything I can to urge them to get back to the classroom. That we do it safely that we do it by listening to people. We need to make sure people are wearing masks and that they can be there safely. In terms of premium pay for different people we are not there yet," said the Governor.

Additional details of the states reopening plan include a phased re-entry or exit if needed, each school must establish an isolation room, additional levels of PPE might be required for special education teachers, schools should think about foot traffic patterns like one-way hallways and staircases, buses will likely run close to capacity, and of course a mask requirement with mask breaks throughout the day.