The safety and health of students, teachers, and staff in our public schools must be the first priority
in any plan to reopen schools this fall.
Governor Lamont’s plan—calling for a full-time return to school for all students—raises questions
about how safety will be preserved during a pandemic that is still present in Connecticut, and
worsening in other states.
“The road map to in-school instruction must be clear and focused on protecting the health of our
school populations,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “We understand the serious challenges
presented by the coronavirus, and going forward we must not undo the sacrifice and progress we
have made since the shutdown. The safety of students and adults requires protections that work in
demanding school settings.”
“Special accommodations must be made for students and staff at higher risk, and appropriate
guidelines must be in place to provide a safe learning and teaching environment,” Leake said. “That
includes smaller class sizes, routine testing for COVID-19, monitoring students for virus symptoms,
state-provided personal protective equipment, and disinfecting classrooms, hallways, bathrooms,
and commonly shared areas and equipment daily.”
The state must ensure that funding is available to all districts for the resources required to meet
CDC guidelines, and other protections for health and safety. Deep disparities exist between school
districts, especially in Alliance and high-poverty districts. Schools need more, not less funding as
students return to school with increased needs due to learning loss and trauma from the pandemic,
and time away from school.
“When parents send their children to school this fall, they must be confident that schools have the
resources necessary to make our schools safe,” said CEA Executive Director Don Williams. “We must
follow CDC guidelines for health and safety, and prevent schools from being incubators for
spreading COVID-19 to other students, staff and parents. Without adequate funding, academic and
health inequities across our school districts will increase, and harm the future of students.”
Educators are looking forward to teaching their students in-person again, but agree that first it must
be safe for all students, teachers, staff, and their families. Teachers, staff, and parents must be part
of the back-to-school conversation and planning in each school district. CEA urges the state to
provide the necessary funding and support to ensure that health and safety are the top priorities.