Report by Paula Antolini, June 25, 2020, 10:33PM EDT
Message from Dr. Christine Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools, to Parents, Guardians, Staff, and Community Members, June 25, 2020:
This week the State Department of Education released the preliminary reopening guidelines for fall of 2020.
Given the positive health data in the State, guidelines have been developed under the premise that all of our students will be coming back to school in the fall, with a focus on implementing strategies on mitigation of the spread of the disease. The State has indicated that they will release the full guidelines on Monday, to assist us in planning.
The State has asked us to develop three separate phases to be ready to be implemented based on local public health issues. This “ramping down” plan would only be implemented if there is a local resurgence of COVID-19 cases locally. It has been communicated to us by the State that the new guidelines will
indicate the public health conditions that would trigger a movement down into phase 2 and 3.
Phase 1: All students coming back to school in the fall, implementing guidelines (below).
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Phase 2: Creating a hybrid model (some in school time and some distance learning).
Phase 3: All students on distance learning.
In the preliminary guidance, it does look like there will be an option for families to stay on distance learning only, particularly for students who are immunocompromised.
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Our administrative team will be looking at those guidelines to discuss implications for operations both logistically and financially. We will need to submit a plan to the State by July 24th. The guidelines, not surprisingly, have four components:
PPE: Students and staff are required to wear face masks when social distancing cannot be maintained, including on the bus.
Cleaning and Disinfection: Implementing cleaning and disinfection guidelines as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Handwashing: Frequently throughout the day. Making disinfectant available when hand washing is not possible.
Social distancing: To the greatest extent possible.
Cohorting: Keeping students in a cohort (group of students stays together) as much as possible, K-8. Because of the complexity of 9-12, it is not logistically possible. The focus would be to mitigate any opportunities for congregation.
We would anticipate that in the next few weeks we will have a plan to share with you (i.e., what school would “look like” for your children in the fall). We will also need to know soon if your family wants to stay in a distance learning model and/or if whether or not you would want them to have bus transportation
(for those who opt to send their child in person). Please anticipate a survey from your school soon.
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As soon as we have more information to share with you, we will. We likely will set up a Zoom meeting in July to answer your questions, once a proposed model has been developed and shared. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.