WALLINGFORD, CT — While it remains to be seen what school will look like in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Wallingford Board of Education approved several changes Wednesday to the. The board also approved the 2020-2021 school budget at Wednesday night’s meeting.
The calendar changes included a new first and last day of school. The changes are as follows:
The new first day of school for students will be Monday, Aug. 31.
There is no school for students and teachers on Tuesday, Nov. 3 – Election Day.
There is now school for students and teachers on Friday, March 19, 2021.
The new last day of school for students and staff will be Friday, June 11, 2021.
“These changes were made to provide the teachers with additional professional development prior to the new school year starting,” Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo said in an email to parents. “There will be significant training and planning that needs to occur, and the additional time will provide for staff to be best prepared for students to arrive.”
Gov. Ned Lamont said there is a strong inclination to have public school students in the classroom come the fall, but the state is still working on plans to keep potential infections to a minimum.
"Schools will be back in the fall," Lamont said during an interview Wednesday on the Chaz and AJ show on 99.1 PLR. “My thinking on this is ... the size of a class is important … but just as important, even more important is the cohorting."
Guidance is still being worked on, but ideally students will stay within the same cohort to help limit any potential spread of the virus, Lamont said. That is easier to implement on the elementary school level, but doing that at the high school level is more complicated. Guidance is expected in the coming weeks.
Menzo also notified the school community earlier this week that, based on information from the Center for Disease Control and some state agencies, a “hybrid distance learning and live teaching model” is possible for the start of the school year.
“There are varying forms of rotations being recommended as well (i.e. half day, alternating days by grade level),” Menzo wrote in an email to parents. “The guidance we have reviewed and need to factor into our thinking as plans develop suggest that the structure of the day would have some changes as well. All students and staff, at this time from the information available, would have to participate in daily health checks (temperature and wellness questions). The recommendations thus far require reduced movement in buildings. This may impact bell schedules and large group activities. In addition to the above information that I have been reading, there is a requirement for two nurse’s offices. One will be a ‘clean’ office where normal school nurse functions would occur, and the other would be where students or staff go in the event they show up to school with COVID-19 symptoms or begin to display them throughout the school day. In addition to finding a location for the second nurse's office, there is a need for additional staffing that must be hired. Staffing also needs to be expanded in the area of maintenance and custodial to ensure we are addressing on-going cleaning as prescribed by the guidelines. Student transportation, arrival, and dismissal procedures will clearly all be modified to limit large groups and to provide social distancing.”
Menzo said he didn’t share the information to “alarm anyone, but rather to try to provide some context for the upcoming school year.”
“I have been asked more times than I can count as to what may be the plan, and I wanted to offer you a little insight as to what I am reading from a variety of resources and receiving from colleagues,” Menzo said. “The official Connecticut guidance on the reopening of schools should be provided to us in a few weeks. Once we have that, then the detailed planning will move into full gear. Until then, we are developing the many cleaning and public safety protocols that everyone will have to follow come the fall. A tremendous amount of purchasing of personal protective equipment and other resources recommended by the Center for Disease Control and the State Department of Public Health has and will continue to occur. As a result of these new protocols, professional development will be offered as a requirement for the district to open successfully to protect the safety of students and staff.
“The good news that we all have seen is that Connecticut seems to be responding well to the reopening. Therefore, if this positive trend continues, it will be great to welcome all of you back in August for a full year in-district. With that said, things may change.”