Shelton Public Schools to move to full distance learning until Jan. 2021

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SHELTON, Conn. (WTNH)– Shelton Public Schools will move to full distance learning starting Wednesday and until Jan. 2021.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Beth A. Smith announced on Tuesday that starting Wednesday, Nov. 11, in-building instruction will be canceled and the school district will move to full distance learning until Jan. 1, 2021. She added that the decision on how they’ll proceed after the first of the new year will be discussed in December.

Smith says the decision to move to fully remote learning was due to the increasing positive cases of Covid-19 affecting the school community.

Additionally, Smith says that the district team has been working hard at securing the needed technology and that currently students in grades 5 through 12 have been given 1:1 Chromebooks. Certified staff have also been given cameras and tripods for teaching.

To read the full letter from Dr. Smith to the school community on the change in learning model, see below:

Good afternoon,

First and foremost, I hope you are safe and healthy. The district has been working with the Naugatuck Valley Health Department and closely monitoring a fairly consistent trend of increasing positive cases of COVID-19 affecting the Shelton Public Schools community. Last Thursday, Shelton was at a rate of 15.5%, in the red metric as shared by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health Connecticut
COVID-19 Data Tracker (https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Data-Tracker). Since last Thursday there have been an additional eight positive cases in the SPSS community, with additional cases reported this morning that will be shared later today. These increasing positive cases have affected our ability to safely keep our schools open and adequately staffed.

After consulting with the Naugatuck Valley Health Department, Assistant Superintendent Ken Saranich, Director of Human Resources Carole Pannozzo, Finance Director Rick Belden and Shelton Board of Education Chairperson Kathy Yolish, the district has made the extremely difficult decision to cancel in-building instruction and move to full distance learning starting tomorrow, Wednesday, November 11, 2020 until January 1, 2021. The decision on how to proceed after January 1 will be discussed and communicated in December. We believe this is the best decision for the Shelton Public Schools community at this time.

The district team has been working hard at securing technology. We currently have students in grades 5 through 12 with 1:1 chromebooks. Certified staff have been given cameras and tripods. Professional learning on synchronous learning has also been provided to staff. The Office of Teaching and Learning has provided the Shelton Public Schools Distance Learning Plan to all staff and parents regarding full distance learning.
(https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Wu3TEe4eRBjg6aef4bNwjD3Tkp7XrXSzdS0gmDqydm8/edit).

The district is in a much better place than we were in September. The focus of our work needs to shift from daily operations to teaching and learning and the delivery of instruction.

This pattern of positive COVID-19 cases in our community is primarily due to spread in families and from community activities. I have previously communicated that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Holiday recess would be critical times for our community. I ask that everyone continue to do your part to help mitigate the spread of this virus when you are out in the community and at social gatherings. Please wear your masks over your nose and mouth at all times when not at home and practice social distancing and hand hygiene. It will take a community to get us back to in building instruction.

I have a few additional communications:
● I want to acknowledge the hard work of our school nurses, contact tracing under the most difficult circumstances.
● Food distribution for students will continue to be available Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the Shelton High School bus loop. On Friday, you will receive breakfast and lunch for Saturday and Sunday. PLEASE BRING A BAG with you to transport your food.
● School buildings will continue to remain closed to the public.
● Extracurricular activities will continue to be virtual.
● We are waiting on guidance from CIAC regarding winter athletics.
● Planning and Placement Team Meetings will be held virtually.
● Students in the process of reevaluations/being evaluated for special education purposes can have parents provide transportation to and from the schools for assessment purposes.
● Parents of students who need to pick up materials from a school must contact the building principal to work out a mutually agreeable time.
● Staff and parents must continue to report positive cases of COVID-19 to Adrianna Collins, RN, the district’s COVID-19 Liaison (covid19@sheltonpublicschools.org).
The health and wellbeing of our students, staff, parents and the community has and continues to remain our top priority. The district will continue to closely monitor this situation and work with the Naugatuck Valley Health Department and will provide you with updates as we know more. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please stay healthy and safe and take care of yourself and your family.

Dr. Beth A. Smith, Interim Superintendent

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