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State Senator

Will Haskell

Representing Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, Wilton

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Senator Haskell Asks Governor Lamont, Education Commissioner Cardona To Allow School Districts to Develop Hybrid Plans, Count All Class Days Toward School Year


Today, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) addressed a letter to Governor Ned Lamont and Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, urging them to permit local school districts to develop hybrid education plans and models for the upcoming school year, additionally asking for both in-person and virtual class days to count toward the state's legally mandated 177-day school year. While Connecticut has made significant strides in containing COVID-19, a failed school reopening strategy could cause a setback, and Sen. Haskell advocated for flexibility.

"In order to continue [success in containing COVID-19], I believe it is essential that the Department of Education grant school districts with the flexibility they need to plan for a safe reopening in the fall," said Sen. Haskell. "It is clear to me and many of my constituents that social distancing in secondary schools while at full capacity presents unique challenges, including crowded hallways, students moving between classes, lunch scheduling and more. In that light, I ask that you give local school districts full latitude to make decisions that will keep students and teachers safe."

Sen. Haskell cited a recent memo from the State Board of Education stating any days without students physically on-site would not count as school days, even as teachers continue to teach remotely.

The full letter is included below.


July 23, 2020

Dear Governor Lamont and Commissioner Cardona,

Thank you for your hard work over the last few months to contain the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. I am writing to urge you to permit local school districts to develop hybrid education plans for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Most importantly, I urge the state of Connecticut to count both in-person and virtual class days towards the legally required 177-day school year. Not doing so will make any hybrid school option effectively moot.

Connecticut has made great strides in containing the COVID-19 virus, and we currently have one of the lowest infection rates in the country. In order to continue that success, I believe it is essential that the Department of Education grant school districts with the flexibility they need to plan for a safe reopening in the fall. It is clear to me and to many of my constituents that social distancing in secondary schools while at full capacity presents unique challenges, including crowded hallways, students moving between classes, lunch scheduling, and more. In that light, I ask that you give local school districts full latitude to make decisions that will keep students and teachers safe.

Connecticut’s Board of Education has asked local school districts to each develop three distinct plans for the 2020-2021 school year:

  • Full re-opening of schools at 100% in-person capacity with remote learning options available for all students
  • Full closing of schools with 100% virtual, remote learning
  • A hybrid model that combines aspects of remote learning and socially-distant, in-person learning

However, in a recent memo to superintendents, the State Board of Education stated that—under a hybrid model—any days that students are not physically on-site would not count as school days, even with teachers continuing remote instruction. This policy jeopardizes the careful, hybrid plans that school districts in Connecticut have been putting together over the past month. It would also offer a perverse incentive to favor in-person learning over remote learning as COVID-19 data changes over time.

Superintendents, teachers, parents, and Boards of Education have put careful thought and consideration into how schools can safely continue educating this fall. I urge you to give them the flexibility that they need to make the best decisions for their respective districts. Thank you again for your dedication to all Connecticut students.

Sincerely,

Will Haskell
State Senator, 26th District


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