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Reopening Schools 2020

From Superintendent Tom Moore:  We have created this blueprint for our reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that this year will be unlike any other, and we want parents to have as much information as possible at their fingertips. You can either read the document as one continuous piece in this flipbook, or read below and click on the tabs on the left to take you to separate parts of our plan. Thank you for your time, your patience, and your support.

student reading

WHPS Blueprint for Reopening Schools

Introduction

Since the start of the pandemic, West Hartford Public Schools has done our best to partner with our parents and our community to get through this extraordinarily difficult time. As an educational institution, we believe that the education of our youth is the legacy that we give back to our future community. This document attempts to answer your questions and lay out a blueprint for the 2020-2021 school year. We know, however, that delivering this on July 24 guarantees that things will have changed not just by the end of the school year, but by the first day of school. This is an outline of our plans, with specifics, but it is important to remember that things not only might change, they will. And we must be nimble and prepared to be flexible in both our assumptions and our decisions, with the combined goals of keeping our children and community healthy while providing the education West Hartford is known for, and why you chose to live here, as our focus. This blueprint is a living document.

At the beginning of July, we shared an outline of what next year would look like as a means of helping us to plan this document, and to schedule for next year. I appreciate all of you who took the time to respond. We received nearly 7,000 responses and a summary of responses is below (duplicate responses were eliminated keeping the most recent response for each student).

learning intentions

Clearly, there is a strong appetite to return. Some are choosing to access learning online in a virtual school environment, which we expected but previously could not measure. Others remain undecided. With the publication of this document, we hope that those of you previously undecided will find it easier to make a decision. In the coming days, our principals will be reaching out to those of you who have not responded and those undecided, as we need firm commitments so that we can officially build our classes, and hire staff we might need. If you have changed your mind from your most recent response, please contact your school principal. We need an accurate count by the beginning of August.

Unfortunately, it has been clear in the past few weeks that many states are still struggling with significant spread of the virus. In our world of twenty four hour news, this has led to much debate on the question of opening schools in America. In a country this large, the realities of one state or region can be far different from another. Connecticut, since the end of June, continues to perform well in metrics regarding case occurrence and community spread. No matter one’s opinion about whether we should open school or not, that is currently not my charge. As superintendent, I have been tasked by the Governor and the State Department of Education to provide three plans for school reopening. In this document you will find our plans on safely returning to in person schooling, with an option to choose virtual learning, a hybrid plan, and an all virtual plan.  

It would be selfish and wrong for me not to issue some thank-yous. The West Hartford Board of Education has been very supportive as we do all that we can to reopen schools. They understand the significant expenditures needed to create the conditions to keep our children and staff safe. I never imagined that I would be spending so much on masks, or plexiglass, or outdoor equipment, not to mention the investments we have had to make in air quality and ventilation (HVAC) systems. I also want to thank Theresea McKeown, president of the WHEA, who has been a true partner with us, has served and appointed other union members to our reopening committee, and has walked buildings with us as we made plans for our physical spaces. To my Executive Team, Andy Morrow, Paul Vicinus, Roszena Haskins, Gretchen Nelson, and Rick Ledwith, who have worked seven days a week since March and have crafted this plan in three weeks, both I and this community owe you a debt of gratitude that will never be fully understood. I am humbled to be your colleague. And now, the hardest work will go to our school based personnel, our administrators, nurses, teachers, para-educators, teaching assistants, counselors, social workers, clinicians, school psychologists, custodians, cafeteria workers, security officers and office staff, who will welcome back your children, protect, serve, and educate them every day. Thank you for supporting all of us, and I hope that this plan gives you comfort in knowing that even if you do not like our answer, we have made every effort to address your questions.

Tom Moore
Superintendent of Schools
West Hartford Public Schools

Reopening Schools 2020 ~ One Community. One Year.

WHPS believes in the power of coming together to make a difference. Students, families, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the Reopening Schools 2020 Campaign by submitting creative multilingual public service announcements (PSAs). The theme for the campaign is One Community. One Year. Learn more.

Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut's Plan to Learn and Grow Together

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) have published an updated version of Addendum 4 to Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together – Updated Guidance for Decision-Making Regarding the Use of In-Person, Hybrid (Blended), or Remote Learning Models. This updated Addendum expands public health metrics to support local decision-making with regards to school operations.