Administrators get sneak peek at summer school protocols
A nurse stationed at every site.
No more than one teacher and 10 students per classroom.
No visitors. Lunches distributed on the way out.
That is what in-school summer school is likely to look like under draft guidance issued this week — not to the public, but in an email to school superintendents originating from the state.
As the state slowly reopens, summer schools are slated to start on July 6.
Flexibility is the key word. Programs need to plan for contingencies should the COVID-19 virus that has ravaged the state flare back up.
“Summer school programming will serve as a vital strategy in reengaging students that have been most impacted by the class cancellations,” Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona said in a letter to superintendents that accompanied the yet-to-be-released guidelines
Districts were advised to develop local reopen teams. Many already have.
The draft guidelines are to be updated when the state Department of Public Health loops in local health departments. They were sent to superintendents so they could identify space, start hiring teachers and identify students most in need of re-engagement after three months of at-home instruction.
Top priority is to be given to students with special needs, learning English, those who had limited access to technology at home or who did not otherwise participate in distance learning over the past three months.
District-run summer schools differ from summer camp programs offered by many communities, including Bridgeport’s city-run Lighthouse Program. There too, space will be extremely limited and based on strict heath department guidance.
The 10-to-1 classroom ratio in district-run summer school programs could be smaller for students with special needs.
On campus, all students and teachers will have to wear masks, Acting Schools Superintendent Michael Testani told parents on a Facebook Live event on Friday morning. That rule won’t apply to students who are medically compromised by use of a mask, according to state guidance.
The state recommends that schools space desks six feet apart and suggests turning desks to all face in the same direction, rather than facing each other. That recommendation flies in the face of many modern classroom designs that encourage students to work together. Some desks today are even built to fit together like jigsaw puzzle pieces.
Outdoor instruction is being encouraged when conditions allow.
Materials such as books, computers, calculators, writing utensils and art supplies can not be shared between students. The practice of taking a test or sheet of paper and passing the rest back will be no more.
Bus transportation remains a question mark. The guidelines call for diagonal gaps in rows and no more than one student seated per row unless they live in the same household.
Testani told parents on Facebook that 10 students per bus, for summer school, isn’t economically feasible. It may be up to parents, in many cases, to drop off students.
If there is bus transportation, districts will have to have a bus monitor ride the bus at all times to make sure students are socially distancing and using face masks.
For now, it seems, face masks will be supplied by the districts on a limited basis. The guidelines also speak to cleaning and disinfecting protocols schools must follow and log.
Health guidance for the programs also calls for COVID-19 testing for staff or students if there is a suspected case of the virus. If anyone tests positive, families and staff must be notified. Temperatures will be taken of all summer school participants. Anyone with a temperature above 100 degrees cannot go in the school.
“It makes things tougher but we will manage,” Tyrone Elliott, high school principal at The Bridge Academy Charter School, said about the guidelines. “We would love to be able to have everyone in the building for summer school but we understand student and staff health is important.”