Governor Lamont: CT public schools likely to be closed for remainder of school year

Coronavirus

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont told a New York radio station Tuesday it is likely that the state’s schools will be closed through the remainder of the school year.

“I really think that’s the likelihood,” Lamont said in an interview on WCBS 880. “You just look at Italy and you look at Wuhan province, you see what the life cycle was there and you worry that if people get back too quickly that there’ll be a second iteration of this virus. So April 20 is the minimum, probably the school year.”

On Monday, Lamont said parents should not expect kids to be back in school until April 20 at the earliest.

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On March 17, News 8 obtained a letter sent from State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona to school officials that suggests Connecticut’s public schools may remain closed for the remainder of the school year in response to the COVID-19 virus.

However, that decision still has yet to be made.

In the letter, the commissioner said schools should now focus on continuing remote education possibilities for students.

“Due to changes in CDC guidance in which they suggest that there may be long-term cancellations of classes and the US Department of Education guidance regarding districts’ efforts to provide continuity of education, we are planning to reduce your reporting requirements and eliminate individual district applications for 180-day waivers,” Cardona wrote.

Now we may all focus our efforts on providing students in Connecticut with continuing educational opportunities to the greatest extent possible. Districts should engage immediately in providing continuity of educational opportunities for students and may end the school year at their regularly scheduled end date.

– State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona

In a statement to News 8, Peter Yazbak, Communication Director at Department of Education, explained that based on federal guidance and the CDC’s suggestion that schools should expect longer-term cancellations of in-person classes (estimated at 6-8 weeks), the governor is “reducing districts’ reporting requirements by eliminating individual district applications for 180-day waivers.

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This includes modifying 180-day/900-hour requirement to allow districts, upon reopening in the Spring 2020, to end the school year on their regularly scheduled end-dates.

However, this is contingent on local and regional BOEs engaging immediately in providing opportunities for continuity of education to all students to the greatest extent possible and consistent with federal and state guidance.

– Peter Yazbak, Communication Director at Department of Education

Yazbak reports the governor’s office is asking school districts to focus on developing and delivering sustainable education opportunities to their students, as well as meeting their students’ basic needs.

Yazback reminds the public the governor’s office is working with online education providers to obtain materials and resources for students learning at home.

The commissioner ends the letter saying there will be more information to come on resources for educators.

In a poll, News 8 asked if you thought that canceling in-school classes for the remainder of the school year was a good idea, and the vast majority of you said you thought protecting kids’ health was the most important thing.

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