HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) has released its revised Safe Learning Plan for students, teachers and staff in the 2020-2021 school year.
The CEA said that due to new research on the spread of COVID-19, particularly in school-age children, they are now calling for a delayed opening, expanded remote learning plans, and upgraded HVAC systems.
“We didn’t get it really right in March,” Jeff Leake, President of the CEA, said. “We didn’t know it was coming. I think we made progress during those months, but now we want to make sure we get it as best as we can get it.”
“We need more time and more planning and more training,” said Amy Farrior, a Marlborough teacher. “I’ve never taught kindergartners sitting at a desk without a carpet in my classroom.”
The CEA released the following recommendations in their revised plan below:
- Delaying the opening of the school year for two weeks or until mid-September to improve and expand remote learning.
- Changing state policy and recommending all-remote learning for all districts that have a moderate or high infection rate, or an inability to maintain six feet of social distancing or other safety considerations.
- Paying strict attention to equity in all decisions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on students, teachers, administrators, staff, and their families.
- Protecting and providing accommodations for at-risk students, teachers, and staff
- Increasing funding to districts for COVID-related expenses.
- Implementing a comprehensive, school-centered contact tracing program to help mitigate any exposures to the virus, and for any in-class learning, providing COVID-19 testing for all students and adults as soon as practicable, with results in 24 hours or less.
- Upgrading school air handling (HVAC) systems to improve air quality and protect health.
While Connecticut currently has a low COVID-19 transmission rate, officials fear a possible resurgence similar to what other states are facing.
“It hurts to read that people think that they were slacking off and this was their summer vacation,” Farrior said. “Teachers want to be in front of the classroom, they just want to be in front of it safely.”
“The primary consideration to any school reopening plan must be the safety, health, and wellbeing of students, teachers, and their families,” Leake said. “The state must revise school reopening plans to protect our school communities, especially in light of new reports confirming that children can readily transmit COVID-19 and may be drivers of the pandemic. Remote learning is still the safest option. Any return to the classroom requires additional precautions, including strict social distancing and access to COVID-19 testing, that are not currently included in the state plan.”
Read the full plan below: