(WFSB) – Questions continue to swirl around the state's back-to-school plans.
As it stood Tuesday morning, superintendents had some flexibility formulating their district's own plans for getting students safely back into classrooms.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Monday that districts can consider several different alternatives.
The guidance has basically consisted of three options: Go back to school in-person full time in the fall, a hybrid of at-home learning and in-school learning, and full distance learning from home.
On Monday, the state’s Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona suggested given the state’s coronavirus data, they were leaning towards a full reopening.
Lamont echoed that, and said he wanted districts to emphasize in-person education. However, he said he understands that won't work for every family.
After surveying more than 23,000 residents and 16,000 students, they said the clear preference of students and teachers was to have in-person classes.
"Public health is going to be our priority number one, two, and three," Lamont said.
The back to school plan is still fluid and greatly depends on COVID-19 numbers in the state.
Connecticut continues to have a less than 1 percent positivity rate.
“So, districts are going to have the opportunity to ultimately decide what plan works for them. We believe right now, with the data where we are, elementary schools can go in, middle and high schools should be able to get the majority of students in. We recognize that ultimately at the high school level, it might be more feasible to start out in a hybrid version and that’s something that districts are going to be able to decide,” Cardona said.
If families don't feel comfortable sending their children to school, they have the final call.
"Instruction in the classroom could go fluid from being there one day and then if we have to close the next day, you still know the assignments, you still know how to use your technology, and parents are well-informed of the instruction we are trying to deliver," said Cynthia Ritchie, New London Schools Superintendent.
The state bought 50,000 Chromebooks in addition to the 60,000 laptops they had already purchased for online learning this fall.
"And for those students who don't necessarily feel confident going back into the classroom just yet and feel they will be more likely to tele-learn, learning from home, we've made a big priority," Lamont said. "We'll be back-stopping all of our superintendents in terms of the technology they need in order to be able to zoom in and out of that classroom so they continue to learn remotely."
School districts throughout the state have the right to make their own decisions with regard to reopening, Lamont and Cardona said. The state only provides suggestions.
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