School districts work to develop plans on how to social distance students this fall

New London

WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Districts all across the state are now trying to figure out how they will keep students six feet apart or at least provide them with a safe learning environment amid the pandemic.

Second grader Jackson Donahoe, of East Lyme, is looking forward to going back to school.

“I want to see my friends,” said Donahoe.

Madison Krump, of Waterford, is heading to UConn in the fall.

“Most of my classes are even online so I might not be… on campus at all,” said Krump.

Related: State Dept. of Education hosts virtual Q&A session on reopening plan for fall

Students of any age can expect to wear face masks when they return to the classroom.

“After like two hours it gets a little hot,” said Donahoe.

The state is providing guidelines for school districts who are preparing a lot more than lesson plans for the start of the new school year.

“One of the things that the state guidance talks about is removing all unnecessary furniture in the classroom,” said Tom Giard, Waterford Superintendent of Schools.

They may remove file cabinets, book shelves, or anything which would give them more room to space out desks as far apart as possible.

“We also know that not every parent will decide to send their child to school which will allow us to spread our students out even more,” said Giard.

Kindergarteners through eighth graders may be kept in cohorts which would keep the same students together throughout the day.

“So students might be staying in one location the majority of the day and teachers are rotating in and out,” said Giard.

That might be more difficult for high school students so some classes could be held in larger spaces like gymnasiums and auditoriums.

“And to even in the warmer weather consider outdoor instructional spaces,” said Giard.

Hallways and stairwells may also be designated as one way to increase social distancing. 

But what happens if a student or staff member gets COVID-19?

“I think cohorting will help with that in terms of contact tracing in terms of that nature but we are awaiting further guidance,” said Giard.

The superintendent says they are tasked with developing plans for three different scenarios. Having all the students in the classroom, having all virtual learning, or having a hybrid of both.

“I feel like that they’re going to do everything they can to make it safe,” said East Lyme parent Joe Donahoe.

New Haven sent out a survey asking parents what learning method they want for their child. Information which could be useful for planning purposes.

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