Wallingford middle, high schools to reopen Tuesday

Wallingford middle, high schools to reopen Tuesday

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WALLINGFORD — Middle and high school students will be headed back to class this week after the buildings were closed in November and all students put on distance learning.

The middle schools are going back to their original hybrid schedule of distance learning.

The high schools are going to a modified hybrid model that came out of conversations with high school teachers and administrative staff.

The option remains for voluntary distance learning, as required by the state, if parents want their child to continue learning from home.

Students are slated to return Tuesday. Schools will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Anne Varrone-Lederle, Wallingford Education Association president, said via email Friday that the district’s high school and middle school teachers “have been busy this week in preparation for the return of students to our buildings.”

“Returning to in-person teaching and learning will be an adjustment for everyone,” she said.

Currently, 27 percent of all students district-wide — 1,448 total — are participating in distance learning exclusively.

“We are not sure if this will go up or not” after Tuesday, School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said Friday. “It is dependent on the individual family decision.”

Modified high school model 

Day-to-day operations at the elementary schools — both the K-2 and 3-5 buildings — will remain the same, with full-time in-person learning.

At the elementary level, 541 students, or 23 percent, currently are learning from home only. There are 361 middle school students learning from home, or 29 percent, and 546 high school students, or 30 percent, learning from home.

The modified high school hybrid model is similar to the model used last fall when the schools had problems staying open due to lack of teachers.

It will mean a longer day for the high school than previously, Menzo said, but offer the opportunity for synchronous learning. Students in the building will be learning at the same time as their at-home counterparts.

“The teachers saw the value in having a longer block of time,” Menzo said, “and also having all the students be able to participate at the same time.”

Students will be split into two groups, with half the students in the building on a given day.

In the previous hybrid model, one group would be in the building for about three hours in the morning, and then the teacher would hold class for the other students who weren’t in school that day in the afternoon.

There are no anticipated changes to bus transportation.

Teachers concerned about safety 

Positive COVID-19 cases continue to be confirmed daily in school buildings across the district.

On Thursday, the school district announced confirmed COVID-19 cases among individuals associated with Parker Farms Elementary School, Moran Middle School, Lyman Hall and Sheehan high schools. None of these individuals were in close contact with one or more people while in a school setting, the statement read.

On Wednesday, confirmed COVID-19 cases were announced involving individuals associated with Highland and Moses Y. Beach elementary schools and Lyman Hall. The individuals who were at the elementary schools were in close contact with one or more people, while the individual at Lyman Hall was not.

All individuals identified as close contacts were notified by the building administration or the school nurse, the statement read.

On Tuesday, confirmed COVID-19 cases were announced involving individuals associated with Cook Hill, Highland and Mary G. Fritz elementary schools, Moran, Lyman Hall and Sheehan.

On Monday, confirmed COVID-19 cases were announced involving individuals associated with Cook Hill, Fritz and Parker Farms elementary schools, Dag Hammarskjold Middle School, Moran and Lyman Hall.

Varrone-Lederle said teachers are continuing to monitor and consult with Menzo in all matters involving COVID-19.

“Teachers at all levels continue to be concerned for the safety and well-being of both their colleagues and their students, along with the normal daily concerns of student academic and social growth,” she said.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

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