RIDGEFIELD, CT — The school district is prepared to return all students to classes full-time this fall — but it's also readied Plans B and C, as well.
With Connecticut considered the only state in the US currently on track to contain the coronavirus, infection risk is low, and the state is mandating a full return. Should the threat level rise to "moderate risk," Ridgefield schools will switch to a hybrid learning model. That plan will see half the students in school two days a week, and learning remotely the remainder of the week. Should the risk become "high," everybody will be learning from home. The district is awaiting guidance on how the state distinguishes among the risk levels.
The three-plan model was a state requirement. Ridgefield would have preferred reopening the high school, at least, with the hybrid version, as the cohorting required at even the low-risk level is tricky to pull off in grades 9-12, according to Superintendent Susie Da Silva, who presented at a virtual Board of Education meeting on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Connecticut State Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona doubled down on the state's mandate for schools to open fully in September. July 24 remains set as the deadline for the CSDE to receive plans from all districts.
In all models, the school day will be reduced by 20 minutes at top, and 20 at the tail. "The reason for this is to ensure there are adequate staff members available in order to get students immediately into classrooms to keep them from congregating in large spaces and large groups," said Elizabeth Hannaway, assistant superintendent of Special Services.
Mask wearing is "critical," according to the district's plan, and outdoor space will be used whenever possible. Frequent hand-washing will be encouraged, and wherever possible, social distancing will be enforced. School officials are exploring the use of bus monitors to ride the busses for the initiation of school to establish health and safety protocols. They are also looking into increasing custodial time during lunch waves.