New Milford elementary students to resume full in-person learning

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
Spectrum/New Milford Public Schools. A bus makes its way on Stephanie Drive in New Milford.

Spectrum/New Milford Public Schools. A bus makes its way on Stephanie Drive in New Milford.

Deborah Rose /Hearst Connecticut /

NEW MILFORD — The district is planning to return students back to school for in-person learning in grades pre-K to five in March, Superintendent of Schools Alisha DiCorpo announced in a news release to parents.

The transition will take place with pre-K to second-grade students returning first on March 1, and then two weeks later, grades three to five on March 15, according to the announcement.

“The decision was made to open schools up to in-person learning for PK-5 because we do not currently, and have not had, any known transmission of COVID-19 in our schools,” DiCorpo told Hearst Connecticut Media. “As a district, we felt it was paramount to plan for a safe return for students and staff and so we have been working with administration, our health director, as well as our district medical advisor and teachers to do just that.”

DiCorpo said the district has learned “a great deal” since closing schools last March and wanted to take the time to review the plans and make necessary adjustments for a safe transition.

Additionally, she said during the planning period, the district sought approval from the Board of Education to purchase what was needed for students and staff to return safely. This includes partitions and air purification for the cafeterias.

According to DiCorpo, the dates provided to parents for schools to reopen will allow the schools to receive all materials they’ve ordered, set up partitions, and receive survey data from parents on whether their child will return to school in person.

“The time also affords us the opportunity to host parent evenings and to share specific information about each school with parents,” she said, adding she’ll be able to walk the buildings prior to the reopening and during the reopening with the health director.

In the announcement, DiCorpo wrote students who wish to continue accessing their education remotely will still be allowed to do so.

According to the school reopening schedule, the Friday before each school is to reopen, both cohorts will be remote. For Hill and Plain Elementary School and Northville Elementary School, this will be Feb. 26, and for Sarah Noble Intermediate School, it will be March 12.

“It’s important to note that all reopen dates are subject to change, based upon COVID related factors. I will update families as we get closer to the dates if there are to be any changes,” DiCorpo wrote.

For students who will be participating in person, the schedule will change to reflect in-person learning, Monday through Friday, with an accelerated early dismissal schedule followed on Wednesday, complete with grab and go lunch, DiCorpo said.

According to the announcement, administrators will work to define the Wednesday half-day schedules, which will include time for planning, as well as afford facilities the opportunity to provide deep cleaning. Administration will also begin working with support staff and teachers to create transition plans for individual students who experience anxiety or have had difficulty in the past with full in-person learning.

In addition to the pre-K to fifth-grade schools reopening, changes will be made to the middle school and high school schedules that will include a half-day of in-person learning for students on Wednesdays, with Cohort A and B rotating in. Cohort A will begin on March 17, according to the announcement.

Additionally, all pre-K to fifth-grade principals will hold virtual meetings with parents prior to students returning in person to describe the school day and provide a virtual tour of each building.

DiCorpo said she has been attending faculty meetings in each elementary school with members of the Central Office staff and building leadership.

“The meetings are ongoing with school staff and principals so that we can continue to seek feedback and prepare to reopen fully based on our parent survey data,” she wrote in the release.

DiCorpo said if parents have specific questions related to their child’s school, they can reach out to the building administrator.