HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Connecticut education leaders say the governor will need to make a decision regarding the reopening of schools in the state before May 20.

In a letter, CEA President Jeff Leake reiterated the importance of not giving in to pressure to reopen schools and businesses prematurely, as “easing up on social distancing too quickly could be deadly.”

He said the decision to reopen needs to be made with common sense, along with guidance from top health experts.

“Before a decision can be made, a lot needs to be done. Now is not the time to undo all the sacrifices and progress that Connecticut residents and businesses have made over the past few months to stop the spread of the virus. We need caution and common sense. We can’t play Russian roulette with residents’ lives,” the letter said.

Leake went on to say that once schools do reopen, whether it’s next month or next fall, the state must develop and implement new safety procedures and protocols.

“Schools by their very nature are not conducive to social distancing, and special accommodations must be made to change that,” he said.

These accommodations include: Staggered start times, new lunchtime and classroom seating formats, changes in hallway passing periods, reductions in large classrooms, and a host of other changes to ensure proper social distancing measures are followed and we are not putting students and teachers in harm’s way, he said.

Schools will also need to be disinfected daily, along with continual cleaning of classrooms, hallways, and bathrooms, and other commonly shared areas and equipment.

Leake also outlined the importance of making sure there is enough personal protective equipment before reopening, along with the ability to perform more testing, tracing and tracking.

“Such testing is not currently being conducted in a comprehensive way anywhere in the U.S., and until it is, we cannot allow our students and their teachers to go back to school, where they and their families could become collateral damage," he said. "Let’s stay the course and continue to flatten the curve, saving the lives of our family members, friends, and neighbors. It’s better to be safe than sorry."

Read the complete letter here.

Only 14 percent of Americans think it's a good idea to send students back to school without more testing, according to a poll Wednesday from NPR, PBS, and Marist College. Eighty-five percent say it’s a bad idea.

Some parents said they want their children to go back to school and are concerned students are losing out on socialization, and that some need support from teachers and tutors.

On Monday, President Donald Trump urged governors to strongly consider reopening, saying kids seem to face less risk from the coronavirus.

“I think it would be a good thing because you see that whatever the virus goes after, young people seem to do very well,” he said.

However, some parents are worried about their kids becoming carriers.

“What about if grandparents live with the children, what if the parents are immuno-compromised,” Kate Winters of Winsted asked.

 

Copyright 2020 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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