July 7, 2020 Update

July 7, 2020 Update
Posted on 07/07/2020

Dear East Granby Families,

I hope you are well and finding time for some rest and relaxation during these first weeks of summer.

Last week I shared that Governor Lamont and the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) have asked Connecticut school districts to prepare a plan for all students to return to school five days a week for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. While there are a number of requirements that will take time to resolve, I wanted to share and highlight some details so that you may have a better understanding of what school is beginning to look like for next fall. The following are key areas defined by the CSDE and Department of Public Health to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Similar to this past spring, guidance and requirements continue to be fluid. If you are interested in reviewing the full 50 page document of the CSDE's plan for school reopening, Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut's Plan to Learn and Grow Together, the link is here:

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/COVID-19/CTReopeningSchools.pdf

Social Distancing

The CSDE's plan requires schools to “maximize social distancing between student workstations, achieving six feet when feasible, when determining the classroom layout.” By reconfiguring classrooms at Carl Allgrove Elementary School and R. D. Seymour Elementary School, we will accommodate our current class sizes maximizing social distancing between desks to the greatest extent possible. Elementary students will remain with their classroom cohort throughout the day with multiple outdoor breaks and recesses, weather permitting.

Middle school students will remain with the same cohort throughout the day to the greatest extent possible. East Granby Middle School will maintain class size and work to reconfigure some teaching areas to maximize social distancing.

Given the range of courses, mixed grade classes, and graduation requirements, the high school will not be able to achieve strict cohorts. East Granby High School is currently working on a schedule and building usage plan that will maximize social distancing for students.

Hallway traffic will be managed to minimize student volume in all of our schools. Transitions will be staggered to reduce the numbers of students in hallways during passing times and specials/unified arts teachers will travel to classrooms, when feasible. Elementary students will have a single special for two weeks before rotating to a different special to limit the amount of exposure between students and staff. Lunches at all levels will be consumed in classrooms or in an area that allows for cohort sitting and social distancing.

Health and Safety Protocols

We continue to communicate with the Farmington Valley Health Department to ensure we have the most up to date information regarding COVID-19. The CSDE plan expects “All students and staff to wear a protective face covering or face mask that completely covers the nose and mouth when inside the school building, allowing for certain exceptions.” Those exceptions will be addressed on an individual basis and are subject to student privacy; the reason someone is not wearing a mask will not be shared with anyone else.

We will require frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer. EGPS has purchased hand sanitizer stations that will be mounted throughout all school facilities. Plexiglas shields will be installed in public access areas and other high priority rooms, where social distancing might not be possible.

Additionally, protocols and guidelines will be developed for limiting the use of school facilities and visitations from nonessential volunteers and guests.

In accordance with the CSDE plan, all East Granby schools will create a containment plan to monitor students and staff for signs of COVID-19 symptoms and designate an isolation room to accommodate students who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 until a parent or guardian arrives. This area falls under the Health & Safety subcommittee and will have guidance from the Farmington Valley Health District.

Enhanced Cleaning/Disinfecting Protocols

We are currently working with the town of East Granby to increase our ability to acquire appropriate disinfection cleaning products and equipment. Our school custodians have created a cleaning regimen in alignment with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention best practice for disinfecting and mitigating COVID-19 spread, including cleaning bathrooms and high contact surfaces multiple times per day.

Transportation

All students are entitled to daily transportation to and from school. With that said, transportation has presented one of the most challenging concerns in planning for a safe

return to school. Students will be required to wear face masks at all times while on the bus. Students will be required to sit in the furthest open seat to the rear of the bus regardless of grade level, and siblings should sit together. There will absolutely be no changing of seats unless directed by the bus driver, or perhaps another adult on the bus.

We are encouraging parents, who are willing and able to do so, to commit to driving their children to and from school. This commitment can be rescinded at any time; we will just ask for a one week notice to make bus stop arrangements. A survey is forthcoming asking who will volunteer and commit to driving their children to school. Once we have this information, the bus company will plan their routes.

Distance Learning

All school districts are required to offer parents the option to continue with distance learning should they feel it is in the best interest of their child to remain at home due to COVID-19. We are reviewing our distance learning model based on our experience this spring and will evaluate and incorporate the growing research and number of resources now available. This area falls under the Curriculum/Instruction/Technology subcommittee. More specific guidance from the Connecticut State Department of Education is expected.

Finally, in accordance with the CSDE plan, we will be reaching out to parents in the coming days with a survey to not only ask about transportation, but also your intentions regarding sending your children back to school, or opting for them to remain with distance learning. This is critical as our school district needs to report “best estimate” to the CSDE before July 17th.

The descriptions above are just a few of the required areas that the administration and subcommittees have been and will continue to work towards. We are expected to have our plan to the Connecticut State Department of Education before July 24th.

Developing the East Granby Reopening Plan is a massive undertaking with many areas not very well defined. I talk regularly with a variety of Superintendent groups and CSDE representatives. The Administrative team is in constant conversations with each other, as well as with professional colleagues in other districts. We participate on numerous webinars and conference calls each week, and remain connected with community support members. We will be working, with what seems around the clock, to respond to all the required areas of the reopening document. As I shared in my last communication, regardless of the plan details and input from stakeholders, there will understandably be parents/guardians who will not feel the plan is acceptable and can opt for continued distance learning.

The Administrative team is also planning for a hybrid model of learning and for enhanced distance learning, should public health trends cause us to shift.

I sincerely hope you and yours are well.

Best,

Missy Bavaro-Grande
Superintendent of Schools

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