HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- A new survey put out by the Connecticut Education Association asked nearly 3,000 teachers to weigh in on what they believe needs to be done before schools can reopen.
Distance learning has been the way of the world for students and teachers in Connecticut since March.
CEA President Jeff Leake said they've been working with superintendents and with the state's Department of Education, to come up with guidance and protocols for school districts as the coronavirus lingers.
However, plans aren't one size fits all.
“We are going to follow this framework, but what does it look like in this district? It's going to be different clearly from Bridgeport to Bolton, it's not going to be the same kind of thing,” he said.
“We want them made with safety in mind. We want them made with protocols that make sense and things we can implement that are reasonable and manageable,” said Kate Dias, a Manchester High School math teacher.
According to that survey, teachers said there are specific actions that must be taken, including establishing statewide protocols and protections for all schools, saying protections should include:
- Disinfecting schools, devices, and desks
- Guidelines for wearing masks and social distancing
- Smaller class sizes
- Extra precautions for those at greater risk
- Measures for handling students who develop fevers or become ill
- Actions for handling a case of COVID-19 at a school.
- Guidelines for closing schools should there be another outbreak of coronavirus
The survey also showed “43% of teachers are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and the number increases to 71% for teachers with 30 or more years in the classroom.”
Also, nearly two-thirds (64%) of the teachers said their schools are “not equipped to provide for frequent and sufficient hand washing for students and staff to reduce the spread of the virus.”
“Teachers have stepped up to the enormous challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis and instantly went from in-person lessons to teaching students online,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “Teachers want the best for their students, and while we don’t yet know the specifics of when or how schools will reopen in the fall, we all agree our top priority must be the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff—especially those at higher risk.”
During his daily briefing, Governor Ned Lamont was questioned about the survey results.
“It doesn’t sound that good to me. That’s why we continue to give people the best sense I can, continuing to work with the best health professionals so we can open the schools and open in a way that keeps you safe and your kids safe,” Lamont said
Prior to schools opening, teachers want the state to establish protocols for all districts to follow. Top actions include:
- A plan for reclosing schools in a timely manner if necessary.
- A reopening requirement that there must be a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases in accordance with protocols established by public health experts.
- A system for contact tracing to identify people who have come into contact with a person who has contracted COVID-19.
Once schools have reopened, teachers are calling for specific guidelines to help prevent the spread of the disease. Top priorities include:
- A plan for the regular disinfection of school facilities.
- A plan for when anyone who has been in the school—including a visitor—is found to be infected with COVID-19.
- Protocols and guidelines for students who ride the bus.
- Requiring everyone, including visitors, to wear face masks.
- Social distancing measures, including smaller classes, one-way hallways, no assemblies, etc.
To read the full survey, click here.