State education leaders, school staffs collaborate to keep kids safe when heading back to the classroom this fall

New Haven

WOLCOTT, Conn. (WTNH) — Like with everything else right now, bringing students back to school is a fluid situation. If the COVID-19 positivity race remains low, Connecticut plans to welcome back students to school for in-person classes in August. The public schools’ facilities team in Wolcott outlines what that might look like.

Fran Rabinowitz is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents. Ideally, Rabinowitz would like to see all students returning to school in August. She has a plan B and C in her back pocket just in case students are not able to return.

“Right now,” Rabinowitz told News 8, “it looks as though we can bring them back. I think we need to prepare as if this will happen.

In planning the restart after a long-time coronavirus shut down, the State Department of Education is working closely with the Department of Health.

That teamwork will be needed in all areas of returning students to school during the pandemic.

“We have a great team here. We’re all working together, we’re all working hard. We’re communicating all the time. ‘What about this, let’s try that. What if we do this instead?’ So, in that respect, I’m seeing the best of educators,” said Wayne Natzel, the Director of Facilities of Wolcott Public Schools.

“It’s obviously something that we never had to deal with before with schools being shut down. In my 30 years, this is the first time it’s ever happened,” he added.

The top priority, of course, is keeping everyone safe from possible coronavirus transmission. Extremely difficult, but vital.

As part of the preparations, all of the cleaners and disinfection solutions are in the process of being acquired. Natzel said he’s also ordering signage and plexiglass. All the while, working in tandem within the district.

“When we talk about this, we talk about regional efforts to work with each other, and to network to talk about where the best place is to get whatever cleaning agents you need,” explained Rabinowitz.

Both agree this is ever-changing and could look a lot different in a month or so. Maybe using gyms or cafeterias to accommodate students within the CDC and state-recommended guidelines.

“We’re looking at this whole thing because we’re in new territory,” Natzel said.

Natzel also told News 8 they are also looking at using outdoor spaces for classrooms and lunches when the weather is good.

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