Region 1 Corona Vitus Update Reply

Dear Parents, Students, Staff, and Board Members: Yesterday, Monday afternoon, I requested that the Administrative Team come together to more fully discuss the possibility of school closures and how we would manage this successfully, should we be faced with this.  The intent of this letter is to let you know, if we are faced with the situation where the Coronavirus has reached a point in our area or in our state where we must close schools, that we have a plan for how we can continue to provide an education. We now know that the state of Connecticut has given two options to schools, should we need to close. These choices are either to have school days until July 1 or to provide virtual learning when schools are closed before that time. Without going into any great detail in this email, but which we did go into at our meeting, we discussed how we will ensure that our teachers would continue to connect with students through virtual learning. In other words, we will use computer applications such as SeeSaw and Google Classroom to communicate each day with students, as well as utilized learning packets that include books and other materials.  We will do the following in our planning for school closures: 1)  We will be communicating with families to make certain that every student has access to the internet and an appropriate device. 2)  Teachers will plan daily lessons and communicate these to students and families within a day or less after school has been closed.3) We will do our best to see that all materials students need during this time are sent home as soon as possible (workbooks, textbooks, materials, etc.).3) Lessons will include “new” learning, as well as review, but the pace of lessons will be somewhat slower than regular classroom lessons.4) The school “day” for students will be 8:30 AM-2:30 PM. The teachers’ workday would be from 8:30 AM-3:30 PM. 5) Teachers will share their phone numbers and email addresses with students and parents, so that any questions and needed communications that arise can be addressed.6) We understand that we may have some students who may need to do the bulk of their schoolwork in “after school hours”, when parents are at home, in order to monitor their student’s learning.7) We are addressing how we will provide education to students who, due to a severe disability, would be unable to benefit from virtual learning. We will find the best way to continue to provide an education to all students.8) I will be meeting with the non-certified staff unions to determine a way we can utilize staff members to assist in the schools, even though students are not present. We understand that personnel are reliant upon their salaries and should not be penalized for school being closed. However, non-certified may elect to not work some or all of the days that school is closed and to forego payment for this time period.9) For those students who are on free or reduced lunch, we are planning for ways that we will provide school lunches for several days, possibly food for a week, during the time that school is not in session. This will likely be through sacks or boxes with healthy food products, already prepared, that families can stop by the school to pick up.10) Field trips at all grade levels are being discussed. We are using several criteria when making decisions, including 1) mode of transportation, 2) the destination, 3) local versus out of state or out of country, 4) if the presenter(s) has been traveling in areas where the virus is prevalent, 5) is this a “once in a lifetime” experience, 5) number of persons attending the event. If we decide continue to go forward with an event, parents will be asked to sign a form that states they understand any health risks that may be involved. If any cancellations are to occur with events, students, staff, parents and community will be notified through email, social media, and School Messenger. Please know that, should school closures occur, we are preparing so that everyone is as ready as possible. As we frequently hear, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”. The best would be that school will continue as always. But, if we are faced with a school closings, we want our students and parents to know that our teachers and administrators will do all that we can to see that learning does not stop, that our students are given a different way to learn, and that we can all do our best to adjust to a new way of doing things. We all hope that we do not have to consider this again for another century– but I hope that we can all commit to making this work the best way possible. Thank you.We will continue to stay in communication with everyone. Dr. Pam Vogel, Region One Superintendent