SOUTHINGTON — Public school students will return to in-person learning next month, wearing masks at least until the end of September.
School officials say the policies, such as a mask requirement and no option for remote learning unless a student is being quarantined, are required by state directives.
Classes start on Sept. 2. Teachers return to school on Thursday.
School Superintendent Steve Madancy released information on the upcoming school year last week. His message reiterated what Board of Education members had said about state mask requirements earlier this month.
When parents and residents turned out for a board meeting on Aug. 12, many opposed requiring masks for students. Terri Carmody, board chairwoman, said the issue wasn’t up to local school boards and Southington schools would comply with state mandates.
“What can we do?” she said. “We have to follow the law.”
Madancy said parents mostly agreed that students were better off in school than learning from home.
“Amongst the differing stances of almost everyone on both sides of the mask debate, there was a common theme. That theme was a wish and desire for schools to remain open with a full in-person model to the maximum extent possible,” he wrote.
The state’s allowance for at-home learning, which was granted last year, was not granted this year. Remote learning can’t be used for snow days this year either, according to Madancy.
“They have placed an understandable emphasis on in-person learning,” he said.
Madancy cited Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order 13A for the mask mandate, saying it’s in effect until Sept. 30. Carmody said it’s unclear what will happen after that as Lamont’s emergency powers could be extended.Concerns aboutquarantining
Carmelo Rizza, parent of two Southington public school students, said he was pleased with how remote learning was done last year.
“That worked very very well and it kept everyone safe,” Rizza said. “Having that live interaction is very, very important.”
He hoped that if his children had to learn at home due to quarantining that the instruction would be conducted with live videos rather than recorded ones.
He expected major outbreaks in the first few weeks of the school year and anticipated that students would need at-home instruction.
Carmody said the school district would be practicing all its mitigation strategies to keep kids healthy.
Those who were in close contact with a student or teacher with COVID-19 are required by law to quarantine.
“If there is a student that is exposed, they would have live streaming for those kids,” Carmody said.
“Live streaming works really well.”