School officials say that learning will stay on track despite closure

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Superintendent of Schools Steven LePage announced on Thursday, March 12, that Plainville Community Schools would close as of Monday, March 16, and would remain closed through Tuesday, March 31. As of Monday morning, the superintendent’s office said they are still planning to reopen for classes on Wednesday, April 1.

The previously scheduled preschool registration event scheduled for this week have been cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date.

In a release to parents, LePage explained that Gov. Ned Lamont has restricted public gatherings within state colleges, universities and government agencies that exceed 100 people in close proximity.

“While this is not a mandate through a state of emergency at this time, you may have noticed that many districts are taking these precautions. Plainville Schools will also follow these guidelines effective today and until further notice,” LePage wrote. “There will be several events of this nature—including field trips—impacted.”

Over the weekend, Lamont signed an executive order which took several actions, firstly cancelling classes at all public schools statewide beginning on Tuesday, March 17, through at least Tuesday, March 31; announced last week, and still in effect under this order, students who receive meals under the school lunch and breakfast program “can continue receiving meals during this period and have the ability to consume them at home.”

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Previously, if school remained closed for longer than the two-week period, all days that were missed would be required to be made up through the last day of June and during April vacation, which was scheduled to run from Monday, April 13, through Friday, April 17.

Lamont offered an exemption to the 180-day rule. As a result, LePage has applied for the waiver, so that while the physical schools are closed students can participate in distance learning. This would allow students and teachers to conduct class and complete assignments online or through sent home papers, depending on grade level. If the waiver is approved, then the days in which distance learning is utilized will count towards the 180 necessary days.

In the release to parents, LePage wrote, “Every teacher has Google Classroom and other platforms for sharing and collecting assignments. We are sending a student survey at each school to determine home internet access, and will need to also make paper copies of work available for some grades and for those without internet access.”

Similarly, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) recently announced that all four Connecticut State Universities and the 12 Connecticut Community Colleges would move all classes to an online-only format as of Monday, March 23, through at least Sunday, April 5.

“We are taking all necessary precautions to mitigate the threat of the COVID-19 coronoavirus on our students, faculty, and staff,” said Mark Ojakian, president of CSCU. “In concert with the CSCU campus leaders, we made the decision to move classes online out of an abundance of caution. We will continue to closely monitor the spread of the virus and take all necessary precautions to protect our communities.”

Melissa Lamar, director of marketing and public relations at Tunxis Community College, said that the campus was closed to “out of an abundance of caution,” but at the time of closing last week—this week was their spring break vacation—there were no known cases on campus.

“This pandemic has certainly changed everyone’s plans,” said Lamar. “Tunxis faculty and staff are working to make sure students have as smooth a transition as possible when they begin their classes in online form.”

Tunxis’ online courses will begin with their return on Sunday, April 5. At that time, Lamar said, leadership will reassess the situation in conjunction with state leadership, to determine whether to continue with courses in an online format, or to return to the physical campus.

Plainville Community Schools will continue to share updates as they meet with state and health department officials. All updates will be posted on their website and can be found by visiting, PlainvilleSchools.org.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at News@PlainvilleObserver.com.