Westport school board approves hybrid model for reopening
WESTPORT — The Board of Education unanimously approved reopening schools in a hybrid model, although the details of the elementary schools plan remains in flux.
In an effort to address parents’ concerns, the district’s administration proposed splitting elementary students into two groups that would alternate mornings and afternoons throughout the week. The original plan had students stay in a morning group or afternoon group until midway through the year before switching.
But more than 50 parents emailed the BOE during a school board meeting Monday opposing the idea and highlighting challenges working parents could face.
“I’m strongly opposed to the newly proposed split elementary schedule,” Benjamin Craig, a Westport resident, wrote. “I strongly prefer students remain in either a.m. or p.m. for multiple months at a time rather than switch back and forth throughout the week.”
Craig said the proposal would be inequitable to parents who work full-time and had limited childcare assistance.
“This proposal also makes it difficult for the students to establish any sort of consistency and expectations as children will be going to school at different times at different days in the week,” he said.
Superintendent Thomas Scarice said a survey would be sent to parents to better understand what the preferences would be for families.
“We’re trying to project as to what would be best for families with all different kinds of needs,” Scarice said.
As far as instruction, the district believed two hours and 45 minutes of in-person learning was still key, he said.
But BOE member Lee Goldstein questioned if the survey would take the final decision out of the educators’ hands.
“My understanding was that this was what our principals — our elementary principals — thought was the best,” she said. “I would rather defer to them. But if you’re telling me that the more important thing on this is community feedback, I can hear that, but I want to know if this is a strict referendum.”
Goldstein said she didn’t know how the administration would be able to prioritize the needs of one family against another.
“If we’re doing a referendum, we do a referendum,” she said. “But if we’re choosing what our educators want, then we should stick with what our principals recommended.”
Scarice said a plan will be presented by the end of the week and officials were trying to make it equitable for families.
“There’s not a strong preference as long as all those educational conditions would be met, but we do want kids to have equity of a.m. and p.m.,” he said.