Danbury schools to reopen with hybrid model in late October

DANBURY — Kindergarten through 12th-graders will return to school on a hybrid model beginning Monday, Oct. 26.

Preschool students will return the following week.

The return to in-person learning will follow nearly seven weeks of distance learning, prompted by a spike in coronavirus cases in the city in August.

But the district’s medical team has determined the community is under the “moderate range” for community spread of the virus, the superintendent said in a letter.

“This, along with the large number of students requesting distant learning, will allow us to implement the hybrid model safely while conducting classes in combination with the mitigation strategies of social distancing and wearing masks (BOE Policy),” Superintendent Sal Pascarella wrote. “I expect that we will be in the hybrid model until the District is advised by the state and local health officials otherwise.”

The city’s infection rate was about 5 percent last week, which is higher than the state’s but down from the spike.

Parents should have received an email confirming whether they want their children to be on the hybrid model or to strictly take part in distance learning. Families may revise their choice by contacting their children’s school by Wednesday.

Under the hybrid model, students with last names beginning with A through L will go to school on Mondays and Tuesdays, while the rest are on distance learning. The cohorts switch on Thursdays and Fridays. Everyone is home on Wednesdays.

Models across the state vary by district, with some completely in-person and others using different hybrid schedules. Gov. Ned Lamont has urged all districts to open schools for at least some in-person learning.

Elementary students may have a different teacher due to the number of families selecting full distance learning.

“We realize that this may be difficult for some, but we must balance safety and the health of staff and students as a first priority,” Pascarella said. “Please be assured that all staff are working hard to ensure that any adjustments to your child’s schedule will be done with the least amount of disruption possible.”

Special education or related services will be provided during both in-person and at-home days.

Students learning form home can pick up meals outside their school from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. In-person learners eat breakfast in the classroom, with elementary grades eating lunch on site and secondary grades taking a “grab and go” lunch home.

Once schools reopen, the Extended Learning Program will operate Monday through Friday at all of the elementary and middle schools. Registrations are being taken at the ELP office at 49 Osborne St. or online.

The district and medical team will continue to monitor the spread of the virus and revise the learning model if necessary, Pascarella said.

“We appreciate the partnership between our schools and families, as this has been a learning process for everyone just to get to this point,” he wrote. “While providing our students with the best education possible is our primary focus, we are also working to make sure that it is easily accessible for every student and that no one falls behind. We believe that we have achieved that through careful planning and consideration.”

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