NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New Haven Board of Education has voted to allow in-person learning for certain special needs students beginning next week.
The Elm City has been doing digital learning only since school kicked off last week. They are set to continue that for the first 10 weeks of school.
But this new plan for special education students would bring them back to the classroom starting Monday.
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The plan only welcomes a maximum of 125 special education students with significant cognitive disabilities back to classrooms in 11 school buildings throughout the city. These students and their paraprofessionals will return in half-day cohort schedules starting Monday, Sept. 21.
This comes after a meeting Monday night where the board debated whether or not to allow special education and English language learner students to begin in-person learning amid the pandemic.
The biggest point of contention for both parents and members of the board at Monday night’s meeting was safety: making sure the buildings are equipped to house students who may be medically compromised.
Board members noting some of the school buildings are not clean enough for in-person learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and some parents say they aren’t comfortable sending their child back in the building for in-person learning despite the plan to bring special education students in.
Superintendent Dr. Ilene Tracey said at the meeting, “We’re working our tails off to open up as early as possible so our students can get back into the business of getting back to school, that’s our objective.”
Board of Ed. member Dr. Tamiko Jackson added, “We know that these students are some of the most loving students we have: they hug and they do high-fives and they’re laughing and sharing, so it’s going to be a very challenging start for us. I want to know how we’re going to surveil this population.”
Initially, the board discussed a motion that would have included English language learner students in the vote. However, the board was not impressed with the plan, adding English language learner students have different needs and abilities than some of the special education learners in the district.
The board does consult and work with the local health department to make sure instruction is in compliance with CDC recommendations.