East Haven teachers say district isn’t prepared for in-person classes next week, beg BOE for hybrid model

Coronavirus

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Teachers in East Haven are calling for a change in the back-to-school plan one week before the start of the school year.

Students are due back in the classroom on Tuesday, Sept. 1, and teachers said it’s the wrong call.

Teachers feel full, in-person instruction is not safe, and they want the board to consider another plan with hopes of pushing back the start of the school year.

In July, the East Haven Board of Education approved the plan to welcome students back for in-person instruction with new social distancing guidelines.

On Tuesday, dozens of teachers rallied outside of the board’s meeting, hoping officials will rethink their decision in order to protect students and teachers from the threat of the coronavirus still looming across the state.

“We’re looking at having classes as big as 25 with adults in there; there’s no way to social distance,” said Michael Archambault, Vice President of East Haven Teacher’s Association.

East Haven teachers are now demanding a hybrid model.

“The ideal situation is a hybrid model,” Archambault explained. “You fit 50% of your kids in the school in any one day, so each teacher would see half of their class.”

The plan, welcoming students back, has created concerns for social distancing, overcrowding on buses and another issue — teachers with compromised immune systems.

“This plan that East Haven Public Schools has put together feels rushed, and many of my colleagues feel unprepared to begin in the next week,” said East Haven High School teacher, Emilia Caturano.

Which is why teachers took their demands straight to the board.

“I’m asking the board to do the right thing by taking care of our high-risk teachers by allowing them to work at home and provide our students who have chosen remote learning with a high quality of education provided by the educators they deserve,” said Archambault. “To move our district to a hybrid model to keep our students and staff safe by allowing for social distancing and delaying the school year by two weeks or so to have time to address the concerns of teachers and parents.”

“I think people forget how much teachers love what they do, and we do things to nurture kids, to teach them, mentor them and lead them to keep them safe,” said East Haven Middle School teacher, Al Camera. “When we do that, we’re effective, and I’m not sure a full return to work is effective.”

No new decision was made Tuesday night, but teachers told News 8 the momentum doesn’t stop here, adding that they plan to meet with the superintendent with hopes that the board will consider their hybrid suggestion.

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