Education to continue for Shelton students

The Shelton Board of Education offices.

The Shelton Board of Education offices.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — School officials are going full-steam into distance learning beginning Friday.

Parents were told of the district’s instructional plans Wednesday, according to interim Superintendent Beth Smith, with teachers having a single planning day to work out the bugs.

The plan is posted on the district website.

Students can go to their school between noon and 2 p.m. Friday to retrieve any materials that they need for distance learning. Smith said that during this time, only parents may retrieve any medications from the school nurses.

“This will be the last opportunity for students to access anything from their schools during the closure,” said Smith, adding that students can gather their materials and leave the building, “practicing social distancing at all times.

“Security may limit the number of people in the building at one time,” added Smith.

Shelton schools were closed on March 13 until further notice after medical experts called for people to not gather in groups of more than 25 and the state made the shutdown Connecticutwide.

Smith said the Distance Learning Plan is being put in place even though a new directive by the state Department of Education waives the 180-day school requirement for all schools, with state officials noting that the statewide school closures will likely go on for weeks.

“Due to changes in CDC guidance, in which they suggest that there may be long-term cancellations of classes ... we are planning to reduce your reporting requirements and eliminate individual district applications for 180-day waivers,” read a directive issued Monday by Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s order for a statewide closure of schools had set a March 31 end date, but left the door open to an extension. Allowing the days at home to count as school days gives districts a firm schedule to work with for figuring out an end date for the school year — no matter how long the closures last, Smith said.

Until now, districts had to go until June 30 before the 180 days would be waived. Now all distance learning days will count as school days.

Smith, who took over as interim superintendent on March 2 only days before the pandemic truly took hold throughout the nation, has earned praise from city officials for her efforts.

“Dr. Smith has worked diligently and tirelessly in placing a team together to attack the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Board of Education Chair Kathy Yolish. “She has kept both the BOE and the school community regularly informed and updated as soon as information is given to her.”

Yolish said Smith meets with the team as often as needed during the day and is in constant communication with the Lower Naugatuck Valley health director as well as area superintendents and the state Department of Education.

“She is meeting and planning with school administrators, nurses, staff and the students to assist in providing important information on practicing good health habits as well as having information disseminated for each age group with regards to information about the virus that is relatable and understandable,” said Yolish. “I, as well as many of our board members, commend Dr. Smith and her team for their efforts in dealing with this most difficult and critical situation.”