Shelton teachers raise concerns over plans for students to pick up items

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Exterior, Shelton Intermediate School, in Shelton, Conn. Aug. 9, 2016.

Exterior, Shelton Intermediate School, in Shelton, Conn. Aug. 9, 2016.

SHELTON — Plans to allow students and staff to retrieve personal items from schools next week have not met with universal applause.

Shelton Education Association President Deb Keller confirmed some teachers have expressed concerns over plans to allow students and staff to come to the buildings, especially since the coronavirus pandemic that led to all school buildings being shuttered for the remainder of the school year is still ongoing.

“Obviously safety is the number one concern,” said Keller. “Teachers, just like everyone else, have family members who are sick or are health compromised and some haven’t left their homes at all.”

Interim Superintendent Beth Smith, who announced the student pickup schedules earlier this week, said there are no plans to alter what was decided by the district.

“We do not see any safety concerns if people follow expectations,” said Smith.

Procedures for students and families to follow during item retrieval are listed on the school district homepage.

Keller said the union has consulted with the Connecticut Education Association regarding the plan.

“At present, the teachers’ contract has not been violated so there is not a grievance,” said Keller. “If a violation occurred, we would file a grievance.”

Smith said school staff are required to report to work at their designated time, and anyone who cannot report at their designated time has been informed to use accrual time.

“There has been no violation of the bargaining agreement,” said Smith, adding that she has been in contact with union leadership on an almost daily basis in the past week and has not been informed any grievance is forthcoming.

The list of procedures and expectations to be followed by parents and students coming for the clean-outs set for next week, according to Smith, were developed in conjunction with several members of the Shelton Public Schools Health Emergency Planning Committee, including the school district head nurse and city Public Safety Director Michael Maglione.

“School administrators and Shelton public schools security officers will be on hand to facilitate the clean-outs and to ensure that expectations are being adhered to,” said Smith. “As the health and safety of our employees, students, parents and the community are paramount, anyone not following expectations will be asked to leave the facility.”

Smith said social distancing guidelines must be followed while on a school campus, and a limited number of students will be allowed into the building at one time. While in the building, Smith said, people must maintain a 6-foot distance between other individuals. No in-person contact or physical contact of any kind will be allowed.

There is no registration process for students and families. Smith said school security and a police officer will be at each school during the designated times. There will be markings on the sidewalk outside each school to indicate where people in line should stand.

A limited number of students will be allowed in the building at one time, said Smith. There will be security staff at the exit door being used. As students leave, security at the main door will be communicated with to allow more students to enter.

Designated times for each clean-out session are 1 to 3 p.m. only. Elementary schools will be open May 18; Perry Hill fifth graders, Shelton Intermediate School seventh graders and Shelton High ninth graders are slotted for May 19; Perry Hill sixth graders, SIS eighth graders, and SHS 10th graders will be allowed in on May 20; and last calls for Perry Hill and SIS students and pickups for 11th graders and Transition Program students will be May 21.

On May 22, elementary schools will hold a last call for those students unable to report during the designated times. SHS seniors will also be able to go to school to collect their belongings.

May 26 will be the last call for SHS and Transition Program students who were unable to report during designated times.

Keller said teachers would have liked to use the time next week to clean up their rooms without interruption.

Although teachers are working 10 to 12 hours a day virtually, Keller said, “we miss being with our students tremendously. We feel terrible that we can’t have any contact with them at the pickup, just a smile and a wave.”