CONNECTICUT — Teacher unions across Connecticut are asking state officials to come up with specific policies for handling coronavirus cases in schools. Most schools in the state have returned for full in-person or hybrid learning and there have been more than a dozen reports of coronavirus cases.
School districts have been handling the response differently. Some have shut down for a day or two, others have had classrooms self-quarantine, and others have done contact tracing for people who were in close contact with the infected person.
School districts have also released varying levels of information. Some have provided specific information about whether a staff member or student tested positive, while others only identify the person as a school community member.
“While we understand each school district is unique, the state must provide specific protocols that districts must follow when someone tests positive for the virus, including providing detailed information to parents and teachers,” said Connecticut Education Association President Jeff Leake in a statement. “The absence of consistent guidelines and adherence to protocols is evident in many districts, as is a lack of quality PPE and CDC-approved disinfecting and cleaning supplies. Without state mandates, transparency, and open communication, districts are jeopardizing the health and safety of entire school communities.”
Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday that schools generally won’t have to shut down to in-person learning if there is a single coronavirus case, especially at the K-8 level where class cohorting is possible.
"If there happens to be an infection in that one class it's just those you know 20 students and that teacher who would have to quarantine, not the entire middle school or not the entire school," Lamont said during a WNPR interview.
As of Monday, there were 32 positive coronavirus cases identified in school communities out of around 600,000 to 700,000 students, teachers and staff members.
Related: CT Coronavirus School News
AFSCME Local 3194 President Stacie Harris-Byrdsong said that educators are seeing red flags across the state.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have heard people say we are in this together,” she said in a statement. “That’s true and it’s why our unions are calling for consistent statewide procedures and transparency. We need to ensure parents, the public, and entire school communities know the procedures and what’s being done when a COVID-19 case is confirmed.”
Local administrators shouldn’t indiscriminately make decisions after a positive case is identified, said West Haven Federal of Teachers president Kristen Malloy-Scanlon.
“Parents must be part of the process and apprised as situations requiring action arise. Anything less is not just disrespectful, it’s downright dangerous,” she said.