BOE Announces Phased Approach To Reopening Schools

August 13, 2020
Phased Reopening of New Canaan, Connecticut Schools

The New Canaan Board of Education continues to demonstrate leadership.

Public schools in New Canaan will reopen as scheduled on August 31st under a phased approach that will initially have only half of a school’s students attending classes at one time.

The phased approach was announced Monday by New Canaan Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi. Luizzi said the phased approach will allow administrators to closely monitor the health and safety of students and staff when school starts in less than 3 weeks, and allow for a full reopening of all schools starting the week of October 5th if the health data supports that decision.

Luizzi stressed that a full reopening of the public schools will only move forward if the health metrics remain positive.

“Right now, we are in a good position,” Luizzi said. “The phased approach is a way for us to take the time to educate the students, our staff and our parents that wearing masks, socially distancing students, staff and teachers, and washing our hands regularly is the only way we can move forward.”

If the health metrics in the community or at any school show an increase in illness related to COVID-19, schools will close immediately and return to the remote learning model that was implemented by the district in March.

Luizzi is hopeful that closing schools again won’t be necessary. But it’s going to take the help of everyone in the community, he said. 

“The messages of wearing a mask, staying a safe distance from others, and keeping your hands clean will be a message that will be emphasized again and again during the first few weeks of school,” Luizzi said. “And if children aren’t feeling well, they have to stay home and remotely engage with their class.”

A strong sense of community proved instrumental when New Canaan Public Schools took swift action against the pandemic in February. 

Read below for information on how the school reopening plan will work. For additional details, you can also click here to access the NCPS COVID Operations Guide. 

KINDERGARTEN

Two cohorts, or groups, will be created. One cohort will attend class in the morning, the other cohort will attend class in the afternoon. An additional bus run will be added to bring kindergarteners home after the morning session.

The plan calls for kindergarten students to transition to full in-person learning beginning the week of September 21 if local health data remains positive and state guidelines allow for schools to fully open.

“New Canaan is now a major step closer to normal, says Tom Butterworth. “A thousand thanks are in order.” You can learn more about Tom’s opinion on the re-opening by clicking here.

FIRST THROUGH 12TH GRADE

All these grades will also be divided into two cohorts. Each cohort will attend class at school two days and learn from home two days. On Wednesdays, students will attend class at school for a half-day. Teachers will receive professional training on Wednesday afternoons.

The plan calls for students in grades 1 through 4 to return to school full-time beginning the week of September 21. Saxe Middle School students will return to school full-time beginning the week of September 29, and New Canaan High School students will return to school full-time beginning the week of October 5. 

All the above dates are based on local health data remaining positive and state guidelines allowing for schools to fully reopen.

“We have made these plans based on what we know today,” Luizzi said. “In three weeks, we could be making significant changes to the plan, so we have to nimble enough as educators and parents to respond as needed. Everything is fluid right now.”

When asked why the board settled on the cohort model, Luizzi explained that it allowed for families with more than one child to be kept together in as many instances as possible.

“In some cases, we thought it would allow for older children to help their parents take care of younger siblings,” Luizzi said. “It also keeps the same groups of students and the same groups of teachers together. We’re hopeful it will prevent any community spread.”

Luizzi knows parents will have many questions. He encouraged parents to read through the Operations Guide to find out when cohorts are scheduled to attend classes at school and when they will be home. There is also information in the Operations Guide regarding hallway traffic, cafeteria and lunch services, playgrounds, bathrooms, bus schedules, and pick up and drop off guidelines.