Superintendent Lucero's Introduction
I am sure that many of you are asking, “Is it Safe?” At the moment, the answer is “yes”. Given the current public health data in Connecticut, schools can reopen if we are able to mitigate the risk of transmission; through social distancing, the wearing of a mask and practicing a regular hand washing and sanitizing routine.
Many of you know that since late May Stamford has had eight different committees diligently working to plan the reopening of our schools. Our committee members include parents, teachers, staff, city board members, administrators, paraeducators, business leaders and community members. The committees are looking at health and safety, teaching and learning, food service, transportation, family and community engagement, technology, facilities, and childcare.
We have been reviewing and evaluating procedures, standards and best practices from across the state and country, while developing the best solutions for our school community and individual buildings. After listening to families and conferring with Dr. Henry Yoon, Medical Advisor for City of Stamford, medical professionals from the Stamford Health Department and Stamford Hospital made the decision to recommend moving to a Hybrid Model based solely on the health and safety of our staff and students.
Moving forward, we will continue to work closely with the Stamford Department of Health, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), and The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to determine if or when offering in-person classes is no longer safe. If this occurs, we will transition to a robust 100% Distance Teaching and Learning Model that will include asynchronous (recorded) and synchronous (live) learning.
One of the main reasons that I believe that we need to announce this decision now is that I recognize how complicated it can be for many families and staff to manage the fluid scheduling associated with a hybrid model, including arrangements for childcare and transportation. While families begin their planning, we will continue to finalize the details to reopen our schools. The attached document provides insights into key highlights of the plan. Further details, including policies, procedures and training materials will be shared beginning early next week. We will be hosting a Parent Pop-up Webinar on Monday, August 17, 2020, to answer your questions. In addition, in the coming weeks you will be receiving school, grade-level and class-specific details from your building administration.
The goal of the Stamford Public Schools Hybrid Model is to have 50% of the students in our buildings and classrooms each day. This model will reduce building capacity and enable us to adhere to all social distancing guidelines.
All students in grades K-12 (pre-k will have a slightly altered schedule) will be divided into two groups; the blue group and the green group, and attend school in-person every other day. On the distance teaching and learning day, the student may still participate in scheduled instruction in their classroom virtually.
Health and Safety
- 6 ft. Social Distancing (Level 1 – Required)
- Wear Mask (Level 2 – Required)
- Increased hand washing and sanitizing (increased number of locations at each site)
- Face shield or protections ( (Level 3 - Available)
- Students and Staff complete health self-assessment in morning before leaving home
- Access and protocol for exposure testing for staff and families
- Process for reporting illness or positive test
- Lunch served in classrooms as much as possible
- Provide access to technology devices and Wi-Fi hotspots for all students, as needed
SPS will implement safety protocols to transport students in need of transportation.
- Implement a cleaning and sanitizing protocol for buses
- Implement mask wearing and other on-bus safety protocols
- Implement a specific procedure for loading and unloading buses
- Implement a cleaning and sanitizing protocol for during the day and evening
- Post Health and Safety signage and provide training
- Implement improved ventilation with State Technical Support
- Properly space furniture within learning environments
- No visitors in building and limited approved building use forms
Teaching and Learning
- All teachers will teach from their classrooms (unless approved by HR)
- Schedules will include synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) requirements by grade level
- Students will remain in cohorts in grades Pre-K-8 when possible
- Staff will prepare, and train for a transition to a robust 100% Distance Teaching and Learning plan
Family Engagement and Community
- Host Parent Pop-up Webinars on reopening procedures and other important topics.
- Encourage all to abide by mitigating risk practice at home and in the community
Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health Supports
- Create safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments that promote all students’ social and emotional development
SPS had created a 44-member CORE Taskforce to identify and address issues concerning the 2020-2021 school year. The taskforce is made up of students, parents, teachers, administrators, business leaders and community members who are utilizing information provided by local and state governments and health professionals. A total of eight subcommittees have been established, one for each of the following areas: health and safety; teaching and learning; food service; transportation; family and community engagement; technology; facilities; and childcare.
At the July 22, 2020 BOE meeting, the district presented the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) required SPS Reopening Plan. As required by the plan, each school district in Connecticut included at least three educational model options, as follows:
- In-person with stipulations model requires students and staff to wear a mask as well as a plan for increased hand washing and sanitizing in order to mitigate the possibility of transmission.
- Hybrid model that includes a combination of in-person learning and Distance Teaching and Learning to reduce the number of students attending school in person on any given day.
- 100% Distance Teaching and Learning where all students participate in all instruction online.
Please note that the transition from one educational model to another, or the determination of which educational model we begin the school year with, is dependent upon the assessment and recommendation from the Stamford Department of Health, given the public health data available at that time. As we have seen over the past few months, the status of COVID-19 spread across communities is changing quickly. Therefore, having different educational plans ready and providing ongoing training for staff, students and families will be critical for future success in keeping our community safe.
In support of the Reopening Plan, SPS will provide a device to all students as a part of our new 1:1 technology initiative and a Wi-Fi hotspot to any student in need. Families or staff members who require technology or support, should contact their individual building principal.
Re-Entry Planning Information
- School Calendar 2020-2021
- Connecticut State Department of Education Submitted Comprehensive Reopening Plan
- SPS Parent Survey Data
- CORE Taskforce Members
- CORE Committee Updates