Region 16 superintendent lays out plan for reopening schools 


By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

PROSPECT — Region 16 schools will reopen with a blend of in-person instruction and remote learning under a plan Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin announced last week.

All school districts were required to submit operating plans to the state for offering in-person instruction, a combination of in-person and distance learning, and all remote instruction to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In late July, Gov. Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said school districts retain discretion over reopening schools.

In an Aug. 5 letter, Yamin announced the plan for the region, which is comprised of Beacon Falls and Prospect, is to start with a hybrid model. The plan is pending the Board of Education’s support, which is scheduled to discuss it Wednesday.

Under the plan, students in grades 6-12 will be divided into two groups. Each group will attend school in-person two days a week — either Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. Students will distance learn the other days.

Elementary school students will attend school each weekday, with the exception of Wednesday.

All students will remote learn on Wednesdays, which will be half days for students. The district will do a thorough cleaning of facilities on Wednesdays and give teachers time to plan.

Yamin said officials chose the hybrid model because they struggled with keeping class sizes small at Woodland Regional High School as well as keeping students separated at Long River Middle School. He added the younger students need as much in-person instruction time as possible.

“We think this will give kids a significant amount of instructional time and provide safety using the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and (state Department of Education) recommendations and requirements,” Yamin said.

Parents can decide to keep their children home and do full remote learning. Under Yamin’s plan, students who do this will not be able to participate in sports or other after-school activities.

Middle and high school students will be broken into two groups alphabetically by last name — A through L and M through Z — with siblings in the same groups, according to the plan. If there is a scheduled day off during a week — like a holiday on a Monday — students in one group will attend school on Wednesday.

The first week of school, Sept. 1 through Sept. 4, will be half days for students. Students will attend school on Wednesday, Sept. 2, instead of distance learning.

Under the plan, attendance is required for distance learning. Officials also will not adjust the district’s grading policy for distance learning. After schools closed in March and officials turned to distance learning, the region switched to the pass-fail system for grading.