Parents and Community Feedback on Bethel Public Schools Opening Plan for the Fall of 2021

Report by Paula Antolini, June 21, 2021, 3:05PM EDT

Dr. Christine Carver, Bethel Superintendent of Schools, shares a summary of 154 comments from Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members about Opening Plan for the Fall of 2021:

Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members:

Thank you for providing feedback on our Opening Plan for the Fall of 2021. We received (to date) a
total of 154 comments. After reading all of the individual comments, as you can imagine, there were a
variety of opposing opinions on a number of issues.

I thought it might be helpful to provide a summary of some of the feedback and general comments in
the form of questions and answers (below). Please note, there may be revisions to some of the answers
depending on updated guidance from the Center for Disease Control, the Connecticut State Department
of Education, and the Department of Public Health.

Will we be on a normal schedule next year? Yes. We intend to start school at all levels, full in-person
(PreK-12). We will not be hybrid or offer distance learning.

Will my students be going to all classrooms for specials (PreK-8)? Yes. We have already started
introducing students to spaces that are not being used for other purposes.

Will Bethel Middle School go back to changing classes? Yes. It is our intent to go back to the traditional
model of students switching classrooms by period.

Will Bethel High School go back to a “full-day” schedule? Yes. The school day will end at 2:30 next

Will our children be eating in the cafeteria? Yes. We are trying to create schedules to allow students
to resume eating in the cafeteria and still maintain some social distancing if needed.

Can the schools require that our students receive the COVID-19 vaccine? Absolutely not. The schools
can not require any vaccinations. Any requirement for vaccinations is based on law, which we have no
control over. COVID-19 vaccination is a discussion you should have with your child’s pediatrician and a
family decision. We would like parents who have had their children vaccinated to let the school nurse
know, to update health records, and assist with contact tracing.

Will you maintain the desk shields? We are considering removing the desk shields. The main reason they were put up was for periods of times when students were unmasked at lunch. If we resume lunch in the cafeteria, then we would not need them.

Will student desks still be in rows? We hope not. In some classes we have already begun placing students in small groups, allowing for some distancing.

Will you be offering all clubs and activities next year? Yes. We intend to resume all after and before school activities. We will need to implement the appropriate mitigation measures required by the State Department of Education (SDE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH).

Will my child be required to wear a mask? Can parents choose? Who makes that decision? We do not know what the requirements for fall will be yet. The schools do not make the decision. We are required to follow DPH and SDE guidance on mask wearing. We only know the current guidance through the end of this school year, to wear a mask inside schools and when in larger crowds where social distancing is difficult.

Will the school still be required to quarantine students who are direct contacts? We do not know what the requirements for fall will be yet. As per the CDC, we do know that any staff member or student who is vaccinated will not have to quarantine if they are a direct contact.

Will we still have 1:1 technology (1 student to 1 device) for our students? Yes. We will continue to support developmentally appropriate use of technology in our instruction.

Will “emergency weather days” or “snow days” be able to be provided remotely? We hope so. The State Department of Education has not come out with an official ruling on this topic yet, but we hope we will be given the opportunity. If allowed, we will likely include one or two true “snow days” but take advantage of the opportunity to provide remote learning on a modified schedule when there is emergency weather.