What will schools look like when they reopen? Will teachers and students be required to wear face masks? How will social distancing happen throughout the school day? Will distance learning continue? How can teachers in high-risk groups protect themselves?
You have a lot of questions, and we invite you to join a live webinar where State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona and members of his staff will listen to your questions and address your concerns.
Hosted by CEA President Jeff Leake, the webinar will take place on Monday, June 8 from 4 – 5:30 p.m. and will focus on health and safety procedures that must be in place when schools reopen.
The top concerns of teachers regarding any return to school are the health and well-being of their students, ensuring they have access to computers and online resources, and keeping them safe when schools reopen.
Teachers say specific actions must be taken before schools reopen, including
- Establishing statewide protocols and protections for all schools.
- The 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, and guidelines for closing schools should there be another outbreak of coronavirus.
Those are some the findings of a new CEA survey of nearly 3,000 teachers taken in late May regarding the current health crisis in Connecticut.
“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.”
According to the survey, 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. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say their schools are not equipped to provide for frequent and sufficient hand washing for students and staff to reduce the spread of the virus.
“Moving forward, schools are going to look a lot different,” said Leake. “Safeguards must be in place to protect students and staff against a virus that has no vaccine and is not well-understood. We also must address learning loss and trauma suffered by students.”
Read the full CEA press release about the survey.
Read survey results.
Read and watch coverage:
Photo by Shilad Sen via Flickr.
Governor Ned Lamont announced today that Connecticut schools will be allowed to hold outdoor, in-person graduations of up to 150 people beginning July 6. An executive order is expected to follow.
“While it may not be the graduation you expected, it will be memorable,” the governor quipped, praising Connecticut residents for “making the best of what’s a complicated situation.”
While in-person ceremonies are capped at 150 people and must be held outdoors, Lamont said that many options exist for schools that have greater numbers of students or have made alternative plans. Schools with more than 150 graduates may, for example, hold multiple ceremonies within the 150-person limit. Car graduations and virtual events are also being planned in many districts. Read more
Despite hundreds of emails, letters, heartfelt comments during virtual meetings, car caravans, and other activities protesting proposed school budget cuts, the Stamford Board of Finance last night voted unanimously to cut the education budget by more than $15 million.
“It’s unbelievable that our voices were not heard throughout this process,” said Stamford Education Association President Diane Phanos. “Teachers rose to the COVID-19 challenges, as they always do, to take care of their students and keep them engaged and learning. The consequences of the crisis cannot be budget cuts that limit teachers’ ability to help their students or cuts to resources students need.”
Prior to the vote, Board of Finance members commented about the process. Saying that the board has been transparent, member Mary Lou Rinaldi remarked, “This should be no surprise to anyone.” Read more
Student anxiety and mental health issues were a serious concern before COVID-19 and are even more so now that schools are not physically in session. Distance learning is no substitute for in-person interaction and emotional support, and many educators are struggling to support students and colleagues during this difficult time.
Earlier this month, more than 800 educators attended a webinar hosted by Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Betty Sternberg, Director of Connecticut’s Teacher Leader Fellowship Program, a collaborative program run by CCSU, CEA, and AFT-CT. The webinar, titled, “SEL Best Practices for Supporting Educators and Students During Distance Learning,” featured 23 teachers and administrators from around Connecticut.
Three CEA teachers were featured on the panel. Anthea Groton, a kindergarten teacher at Birch Grove Elementary School in Tolland, shared strategies to help elementary school students deal with anxiety and feelings of isolation and loneliness. She focused on the importance of warm connections between teachers and students and engaging learning activities like Lego Challenges and Living Room Fort Construction. She spoke of the challenges of distance learning and the emotional toll it is taking on teachers, and reminded colleagues, “What you are doing matters. It matters a lot.” Read more
Hundreds of Stamford students, teachers, parents, and other community members showed their opposition to plans to cut the school budget by more than $15 million during a car caravan rally yesterday afternoon and at a virtual Board of Finance meeting last night.
“The community’s show of support is amazing,” said Stamford Education Association President Diane Phanos. “Thousands of residents have been actively involved in speaking out at four virtual town budget meetings, and hundreds attended today’s car caravan, urging city officials not to cut the education budget.”
Increased class sizes and the reduction or elimination of positions—including reading teachers, media specialists, technology teachers, social workers, school counselors, EL specialists, and art, physical education, and music teachers, as well as security personnel and paraprofessionals—are just some of the changes in store if Stamford Pubic Schools Superintendent Tamu Lucero’s budget-cutting plan is adopted. That plan has been proposed unless teachers accept $15 million in concessions, including a two-year salary freeze and $4 million in unspecified additional cuts or a 10% increase in the teacher health care premium cost share.
“As we try to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our students will need more resources. These proposed cuts will jeopardize their education, their emotional well-being, and their future. We urge our elected leaders to listen to the public and do what’s right for Stamford,” said Phanos. Read more
A virtual panel hosted by Special Education Equity for Kids (SEEK) of Connecticut discussed the need for safeguards and protocols to be in place before in-person schooling resumes.
Connecticut’s elected officials, health experts, education stakeholders, and others agree that when school resumes this fall, it is unlikely to look like school pre-COVID. Safeguards will need to be in place to protect students and staff against exposure to a virus that has no available vaccine and is still not well-understood. Protocol will need to be developed to assess and remediate against learning loss, trauma, and other by-products of the global pandemic.
But what will those safeguards and protocols be, and will they be consistent from district to district? Those were a few of the questions raised during a virtual panel discussion hosted by the nonprofit Special Education Equity for Kids (SEEK) of Connecticut.
As the state works on guidance and plans for reopening schools, SEEK is looking to teachers, administrators, parents, and others for potential strategies and concerns, particularly when it comes to students with special needs. Panel discussants, who answered questions submitted via Zoom, included CEA President Jeff Leake, Old Saybrook Superintendent of Schools Jan Perruccio, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Deputy Director and General Counsel Patrice McCarthy, Connecticut Counselor of Administrators of Special Education (ConnCASE) Executive Director Dave Scata, and Norwalk parent advocate Geraldine Fleming. SEEK board members Andrew Feinstein and Jennifer Laviano moderated. Read more