Westport school reopening committee outlines early plans for fall
WESTPORT — The Schools Reopening Steering Committee presented its latest scenarios for reopening schools, but noted Governor Lamont’s future executive orders will play a larger role in what’s enacted.
“The goals are really to develop plans that work well for Westport,” Anthony Buono, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said at a Board of Education meeting Monday.
Buono, who co-chairs the steering committee, said it will be important to develop a more robust distance learning program in case schools are closed in the fall. A blended learning plan and transition plans from one learning model to another is also in the works.
Buono said a lot of early planning was based on guidelines from the state on how face-to-face summer school would be conducted.
“That’s the best and most current information we have,” Buono said.
The blended learning plan is currently being developed in case schools reopen on time in September, he said. The distance learning plan comes into play if the reopening is delayed in September.
Buono said the first transition plan will include a scenario if schools reopen on time in September but close because of COVID-19. The second transition plan involves schools facing a delayed reopening and then moving to a traditional or blended learning model.
“These are really the scenarios that all of the work groups are thinking about as they do their work and are planning for,” Buono said.
Several members of the steering committee also outlined other preparations, which ranged from new classroom cleaning procedures to best practices for meals outside of the cafeteria.
Suzanne Levasseur, steering committee member and district supervisor of health services, said strategies are also in development to support social and physical distancing throughout the school day including during transportation, lunch and recess.
“A lot of the items that are currently under development are really based on the Governor’s rules for returning to classroom learning,” Levasseur said, adding the current summer school guidelines could be a preview of what’s to come.
The steering committee is also looking at ways to monitor staff and student absences and illness if symptoms are consistent with COVID-19. Levasseur said monitoring would be important in identifying trends.
“So we know if our absenteeism went from 2 percent to 5 percent in one day we’re going to be able to look at that, report it to the health department and identify that more easily,” she said.
Board members discussed how different age groups could be affected by distance learning and the feasibility of implementing any model.
“That’s the work that is occurring,” Buono said. “We are going to come to you with ‘these are the things that have to take place in order for us to provide a blended learning model and meet all these safety and health requirements for our students and staff,’ and then we’ll have an estimated cost for doing that.”