Teaching and Learning
Protect teachers and students by ensuring COVID-19 safety protocols are enforced; address and prevent student trauma; remedy issues of mold, extreme temperatures, lead, water quality, and other school building conditions unconducive to teaching and learning; and require school districts to adopt the National School Climate Standards
Pandemic and Public Health Emergency Safety
CEA is is asking for action to establish better health and safety protocols for schools and municipal buildings. To better ensure student learning transparency about COVID outbreaks in schools, preventing outbreaks by turning to remote instruction when necessary, and ensuring planning time, layoff protections, and suspension of statewide standardized testing are necessary.
Transparency – Notifications and Educator Input
- COVID-19 Case Notification: Local boards of education and municipal employers must make public, within 24 hours, COVID-19 incidents by school or building (including positive cases and the number of those exposed and quarantining) and immediately forward the information for inclusion in the state’s COVID-19 school dashboard. The state website should have a continuing tally of COVID-19 cases by school or building, and the number of individuals—delineated by staff and students—who need to quarantine.
- Increase Reporting on State Dashboard: The state dashboard should include a list of schools and public buildings that are closed due to COVID-19 and for how long.
- COVID-19 Notice to Employees: Provide notice within 24 hours to all employees, their exclusive association representatives (if any), and employers of subcontracted employees who were on the premises who were potentially exposed to COVID-19.
- Teacher, Staff, and Municipal Employee Input for Contact Tracing: Ensure that teachers and bargaining unit representatives who are selected by their association are included on local committees or entities that decide who requires contact tracing and/or quarantining in the aftermath of a positive COVID-19 case.
Prevention – Safety Standards, HVAC, Cleaning, and Quarantine
- Establish Consistent Statewide Protocols for: 1) reporting and public notification of positive COVID-19 cases; 2) contact tracing and quarantines; 3) social distancing; 4) COVID-19 testing; and 5) PPE availability.
- Require that social distancing standards are strictly followed, not compromised, and not required only “where possible.”
- If a test-positive person is identified as having spent a day in a particular classroom, the entire class must be quarantined, not just those closest to the person.
- There must be a single statewide length of a quarantine.
- Contact tracing must include classroom staff when a classroom is impacted.
- No educators, school staff, or municipal employees who must quarantine would be required to use sick leave (which they may need if they get sick), but rather would receive quarantine leave or be allowed to teach their students or otherwise work remotely.
- Schools, with state assistance, must provide regular COVID-19 testing of students and staff to check for both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.
- Red Zone Districts Must Reduce Density or Go Remote: Towns in red zones must, at a minimum, reduce density and be in “hybrid” mode or go to full remote education, unless the statewide standards in this document are implemented and schools are fully staffed.
- Cleaning Plan and Statewide Protocols: The State Department of Public Health must create a cleaning plan for use in all school buildings and municipal office, with a checklist for specific tasks.
- Require cleaning logs to be maintained and posted: Logs are required to be kept by restaurants and other entities, and should also be required in schools and municipal buildings.
- Fix Inadequate Ventilation Systems: HVAC systems must be duly inspected and upgraded where necessary to minimize the spread of a virus.
Student Learning and Development – Instructional Planning, Continuity of Staff, Standardized Testing
- Provide Adequate Planning Time: Institute mandatory planning time—an additional hour of planning time per day or one day per week for planning only.
- Phase Out Dual Teaching Setting: Teachers should either teach remotely or in-person, but not both at the same time. Until dual settings are phased out, provide 1.5 hours of planning time per day to help manage dual teaching settings.
- Continue Payment and Prohibition of Layoffs: Continue the Governor’s Order to protect the continued employment of all public employees who are directly employed by the local or regional board of educations, including but not limited to teachers, paraprofessionals and other support staff, cafeteria, clerical, transportation, and custodial staff.
- Institute or Seek a Moratorium on Annual Standardized Testing: Statewide standardized testing should be suspended for the 2020-2021 school year (note: this may require SDE to apply for a waiver to USDoE).
- Requires State Board of Education and SDE to establish uniform virtual learning standards: While having uniform standards is desirable and would help ensure equity, the bill implies virtual learning settings will not be limited to emergencies like a pandemic.
- Requires SDE to audit Connecticut’s virtual learning experience during the COVID-19 pandemic: We agree with the conducting of this audit, but would like the bill to specifically include the input of teachers.
- Requires districts to provide, and teachers to participate in, training on virtual learning: We need to stop adding to the list of mandated professional development. Training in virtual learning should be led by teachers trained as distance learning coaches and specific to the circumstances that have resulted in emergency virtual teaching. But PD, no matter how good, can’t make virtual learning an adequate substitute for in-person learning.
Sec 16-17: Permits Regional boards to provide remote learning with Commissioner’s approval and a student attendance policy
- We should not be permitting virtual learning as an ongoing method of instruction. Virtual learning is not an adequate substitute for in-person learning.
Safe and Compassionate Learning
CEA is advocating for a comprehensive proposal that addresses student trauma, unsafe classroom disruptions, and student disengagement by ensuring:
- Universal pre-k
- More school counselors, social workers, and paraprofessionals
- Lower special education caseloads and class sizes
- Teacher input into the resources and interventions available to their students
- Shifting schools’ focus from standardized testing to social and emotional learning.
School and Public Building Indoor Air Quality and Safety
CEA is pursuing legislation to provide standards for improving and maintaining healthy HVAC systems to prevent the transmission of viruses, mold, and other harmful substances by requiring:
- Temperature and humidity standards and air quality monitoring in schools
- Procedures for air quality monitoring, and addressing identified problems in schools
- Access to construction bonding to fund improvements in schools
- Emergency protocols for preventing virus transmission in schools