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Posts from the ‘CEA Messages’ Category

Governor Lamont: Schools Could Be Closed Until Fall

In a radio interview today Governor Lamont said that he thinks it is likely that school closures will extend through the end of the school year.

“I really think that’s a likelihood,” said Lamont, who has officially closed schools until April 20. “You worry if people get back too quickly, there will be a second iteration of this virus. So April 20 is the minimum—it’s probably the school year.”

“The Governor is looking at this public health crisis as potentially lasting a longer period of time than initially thought, which he has said publicly before and is consistent with federal CDC suggestions of class cancellations for up to 6-8 weeks,” spokesman Max Reiss said. “Governor Lamont is telling school systems they must be prepared for a potentially unprecedented break from classes being held at schools as a result of the coronavirus to ensure students, teachers, staff and parents are safe. The goal is to have frank discussions with superintendents and the education community as this situation unfolds.”

“First and foremost our priority is the safety of our students, our teachers, and our communities and ensuring students continue learning in the midst of this public health emergency,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “We strongly agree with Governor Lamont’s decision to keep schools closed until April 20 and possibly until the end of the school year. The common belief is that things will get worse before they get better and keeping schools closed until the fall may be necessary to keep everyone safe and prevent the disease from spreading. In the meantime, our dedicated, professional educators are doing all they can to keep their students engaged and learning in today’s reality.” Read more

CEA Guidance for At Home Learning

Every teacher must start with this idea. No one knows how long working at home for teachers and students will last but it could extend to the end of the school year, and we do know that the pressures and expectations of this new paradigm can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay healthy and rested:

  • Take regular breaks.
  • Make time to exercise.
  • Keep to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Limit distractions when possible (turn off social media notifications, for example).
  • Set daily and weekly goals.
  • Make time to socialize virtually with family and friends.
  • Limit the time when you can be contacted to ensure you have time to recharge, be with family, and prepare for the next day.
  • Access Employee Assistance Program or other mental healthcare options to help meet any unique challenges.

Links and articles:

Education Week—Here’s How to Prevent Burnout During a School Closure

CNN—How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Sanity

Read more

Coronavirus and School Closures: FAQ for Teachers

Current school closures are unlike anything we in Connecticut have experienced in our lifetimes. You understandably have many questions about what school closures mean for you and your students, and here at CEA, we are compiling the answers to some of your most pressing questions.

We will be answering more questions as more information becomes available. Subscribe to updates from BlogCEA to stay up to date.

A: Governor Lamont has closed Connecticut schools through April 20 and said it is likely that they may remain closed until the fall. At this time, school is not canceled for the remainder of the school year in Connecticut. Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona recently said, “We hope to welcome students back, but at this point we are taking precautions, and if we have to extend class cancellations, we will.”

A: Governor Lamont issued an executive order waiving the 180-day requirement for school districts, meaning that the last day of the school year may be what each district had previously planned prior to closing due to coronavirus, unless the district chooses to add days to make up for lost instructional days.

A: Teachers are considered “essential” workers per Governor Lamont’s executive order, and thus not covered by the order to stay home. However, educators do still need to follow social distancing protocols. Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona has stated, “While total school closures have not happened, we are also encouraging work from home as much as possible and little to no person-to-person contact in our schools.”

***If your administrators are asking you to go to school for group meetings, or if you feel uncomfortable going into school for any reason, please contact your local president and UniServ Rep. You can also email your questions and concerns to CEA at myvoice@cea.org

A: Prior to the governor waiving the 180-day requirement, many schools, expecting to be out for only two weeks, sent students home with only supplemental activities. Since the waiver is now in effect, and the closures are likely to extend for at least several weeks, the State Department of Education has asked districts to shift to thinking about distance learning. Districts retain the authority to devise plans that best meet the needs of their students, and the State Department of Education is offering districts resources to support remote learning, such as this guide. NEA offers these resources to districts that have the capability to engage in online learning. Follow the lead of your district (which should first be in touch with your local union to reach agreement on expectations) as to what kinds of activities they expect you to plan and how they expect you to be in contact with students and parents. If any conversations with families take place over the phone, use *67 first to block your phone number.

A: Check the website of your school district or municipality. Many districts are making breakfasts and lunches available for students to pick up at school to take home at specified times, and a few districts also have specific dropoff locations for meals. Anyone in the household age 18 or under can receive the meals, not just school-aged children. Usually only one child per household must be present for the family to receive meals. Most districts are only providing meals to students (and younger siblings) who attend school in that particular district, but some others are providing community-wide emergency meals to children without residency restrictions.

A: The U.S. Department of Education has waived standardized testing requirements for the current school year for students in elementary school through high school. The department says it will provide relief from federally mandated testing requirements to any state requesting a waiver due to the public health crisis. Governor Lamont and Education Commissioner Cardona have already submitted a request for a waiver, so no Connecticut students will be required to take SBAC assessments, SATs, or NGSS assessments. The State Department of Education is working closely with The College Board to determine the best course of action to take in regard to the administration of the SAT, since the test plays an important role in high school students’ college acceptance, placement, and entrance.

A: If the resource is something you can legally download and use (such as a worksheet) and you are following your district’s remote learning procedures, you are probably okay, but any websites that require students to log in, have accounts, or otherwise do things online need to be approved by your district (as always). PA 16-189 (the student data privacy law) is still in effect. If you use your own resources or sites that aren’t approved, you may be liable if something goes wrong. Stick with district-approved resources, and if you find something new, share it with your administrator and you may be able to get it approved.

A: Training exists online for many of the sites commonly used by schools, but when in doubt, ask your district for help. They won’t know the need exists for support unless you speak up.

Coronavirus Update

Governor Lamont declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies in Connecticut yesterday afternoon, in order for the state to take specific actions in response to the coronavirus. The declarations allow the governor to take broader measures to protect public health.

There are currently school closures in six Connecticut towns. Wilcoxson Elementary School in Stratford, Nathan Hale School in New Haven, as well as Woodbury and Bethlehem public schools (Region 14) will close for the remainder of the week, and Westport and Wilton Public Schools will remain closed until further notice. Those schools will be closed for deep cleaning, and Region 14 noted that missed school days will be made up in June.

CEA has been working closely with the State Department of Education and other education stakeholders on protocols for other possible school closures in response to coronavirus. CEA agrees that it is better to be overprepared than underprepared and the Association is taking numerous steps to help prevent the spread of the virus and to keep students, teachers, and communities safe, including Read more

Share with Legislators Why We Need a Comprehensive Approach to Address Student Trauma

The Education Committee has an important hearing scheduled for Monday, and we need you to share your stories!

Monday’s public hearing will include testimony on legislation related to social and emotional learning in our schools in the form of HB 5378.

While the Education Committee’s proposal contains important pieces, it is not enough. What is truly necessary is a comprehensive approach to address student trauma and promote social emotional learning.

CLICK HERE to submit testimony on this important initiative. Read more

CEA Amplifies Call to Diversify the Teaching Profession with New Campaign

CEA is stepping up its efforts to diversify Connecticut’s teaching force by launching a statewide awareness campaign aimed at encouraging more young people of color to pursue careers in teaching. Right now, more than 40 percent of Connecticut’s schoolchildren are minorities, but only 8 percent of the state’s teachers are people of color.

The new campaign, Teaching Is Calling You, highlights teachers as role models for their students as well as mentors for young people who may never have considered the positive difference they could make as future educators.

“Teachers are the single most important in-school influence on student learning, and it stands to reason that our educators must reflect the culture and diversity of their students,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “Having a racially and culturally diverse teaching force enhances all students’ academic achievement by providing them with multiple perspectives that allow them to gain a greater understanding of the world around them.” Read more

Happy Holidays From CEA

CEA President Jeff Leake, Vice President Tom Nicholas, Secretary Stephanie Wanzer, and Treasurer David Jedidan—and all of us at CEA—wish you happy holidays and a wonderful 2020.

Let’s Celebrate Teachers and Public Education This American Education Week

This week, American Education Week 2019, presents all Americans with the perfect opportunity to celebrate public education and honor educators and everyone else who ensures that every child receives a quality education. Watch the video message below from CEA President Jeff Leake and Vice President Tom Nicholas.

3 Things to Know from CEA Meeting With DCF Commissioner

1. DCF Is Dedicated to Improving Relationships with Teachers

Monday night marked the start of a promising new relationship between Connecticut educators and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) as DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes and several of her key staff members joined CEA members at the Sheraton in Rocky Hill for a conversation about teachers’ concerns.

Manchester Education Association President Kate Dias asks a question of DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes, Deputy Commissioner Michael Williams, Superintendent of U.S.D. 2 Martin Folan, and Assistant Legal Director Charlotte Shea at Monday’s CEA meeting.

“We’re here and listening, and we’re dedicated to improving our partnership,” Dorantes told teachers.

Dorantes, a social worker and 27-year DCF employee, was appointed commissioner of the department in January of this year by Governor Lamont.

CEA Legal Counsel Adrienne DeLucca told CEA members that she and CEA Legal Counsels Melanie Kolek and Rebecca Mitchell saw Dorantes’ appointment as a new day and new opportunity to open a dialogue with DCF to resolve ongoing issues educators have been experiencing. Read more

Wishing You a Great School Year!

Students and teachers are back to school this week in districts around Connecticut. A new year represents a myriad of new opportunities, but also new challenges—and CEA stands with you every step of the way.

Watch this 2019 back-to-school message from Cheshire teacher and CEA President Jeff Leake.