Shelton superintendent: Lesson plans set for quarantined students

Exterior view of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Exterior view of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — While there is no distance learning plan this school year, Superintendent Ken Saranich said there will be instruction for students forced into quarantine.

Saranich told the Board of Education Wednesday that the district has earmarked $25,000 in federal COVID relief funds to pay a stipend to instructors to teach these quarantined students. Each teacher who chooses to be part of this program can receive up to $1,600 and would be paid hourly.

“I am confident that our quarantine rate will be astronomically lower than last year,” Saranich said.

Saranich said the combination of the number of students 12 and older and school staff vaccinated, along with the improved mitigation strategies are expected to keep forced quarantines lower than last year. State data shows that nearly 52 percent of those age 12 to 17, or about 1,610 residents, have received one dose as of Aug. 26 and 45 percent have received two doses.

“We have no option for distance learning, but if someone is quarantined, we have to give them access to education,” Saranich said. “This is not a distance learning plan — this is a result of a quarantine and our obligation to offer free and appropriate education.”

Saranich said there will be one teacher per grade in the elementary level and two for each grade at Perry Hill School. There will be a teacher for each core subject in grades seven through 12.

The funds are part of the $4.5 million COVID relief aid available over the next two years. Saranich said that $1,600 is allocated for each teacher involved, but if the money is not spent it can be moved to next year for the same service.

The lessons would be synchronous and asynchronous, determined on a case-by-case basis.

Saranich announced this program during the district’s update on guidelines for school opening on Sept. 8. He said that the health protocols were prepared by the Naugatuck Valley Health District, and unlike last year, all Valley communities will be following the same requirements.

Per Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order, Saranich said students and staff must wear masks indoors. There will be mask breaks, he said.

Those who are fully vaccinated or are within the 90-day window after having the virus are exempt from close-contact quarantines.

Health officials said classroom close contacts for unvaccinated student to student is defined as within three feet of the case in the classroom, masked or unmasked.

For staff to students, health officials said close contact is within six feet in the classroom, masked or unmasked.

To be considered fully vaccinated, the person must be two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson.

Any student or staff member who reports a positive COVID test will remain in isolation for 10 days from the positive test date and will only return to school when they are symptom free. These individuals do not need to supply a negative test to return to school.

Any student or staff who reports a positive COVID test in their household will remain in quarantine for 14 full days from the date the student or staff member was last with the individual. If these individuals are not fully vaccinated they can test out of a quarantine after the seventh day and will only return to school after the 10th day. Fully vaccinated household members may return to school or work but should wear a mask at all times and remain non-symptomatic while in school.

Any student or staff who is considered a close contact outside of school and unvaccinated are required to quarantine for 14 days from their last day of exposure with the positive individual. These individuals can test out of a quarantine with a PCR test taken no earlier than seven days after last exposure and return to school on day 10 only if they are symptom free.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com