Reopened Public Schools To Include More ‘Outdoor Learning’

District officials say they’re looking at additional “outdoor learning” New Canaan Public Schools in seeking to reopen Aug. 31 under a widely discussed phased plan. The schools could have tents set up in areas such as fields and courtyards, and the district is “looking at WiFi availability outside, looking to get it in some places where it doesn’t exist right now,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting Monday. “All of those things will help—will help our kids, help our teachers, help our comfort level, everything else,” Luizzi said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “To get outside on a nice day and do some teaching outdoors.

2020-21 Academic Year: District’s Phased Plan Calls For All Students To Be in Public Schools in Early-October

 

If health data supports it, New Canaan Public Schools will aim to allow students to attend all classes in-person in early October, district officials said Monday. School will look different at that time, officials said during a regular meeting of the Board of Education, held via videoconference. For example, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said, those in school will be wearing masks and observing physical distancing, hallways will be marked one-way, classrooms will be assigned designated bathrooms, visitors will be prohibited and all assemblies will be held virtually. Though Fairfield County has what health officials are calling “low community spread” of COVID-19 virus—meaning the state is allowing local districts to fully reopen with in-person learning—the first several weeks of the upcoming academic year will be spent re-acclimating students and parents, as well as teachers and faculty, to the changed environment, officials said. Available here in a continuously updated operations guide, the four-phase plan is geared toward the school community’s “on-boarding and reengagement,” Luizzi said.

Board of Ed Debates Adoption of Proposed Goals on ‘Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’

The New Canaan Board of Education last week debated whether to adopt formal goals for the upcoming school year designed to address issues of race through staff training, changes to curriculum and parent education, among other areas. 

Draft goals discussed at the Board’s July 13 meeting (they can be found here, under Goal 4-2, and embedded below as a PDF) include creation of what would be the districts’ first “statement on equity, diversity and inclusion,” as well as an update on Social Studies curriculum and identification of “additional opportunities in other content areas to increase content on diversity and inclusion K-12.”

Some Board members voiced support for adopting the goals, while others said they were concerned about introducing the changes during an academic year that likely will include some form of distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic that strains the “bandwidth” of educators and where spending on schools is tight. Sheri West said she strongly supported the new goals and that it’s “crucial that at this moment in history, that we as a Board, as educational leaders in our district that we communicate the importance of these values and really truly that they are at the cornerstone of what we do—our values and our belief system and our actions.”

“I especially like the addition of the professional development and of the parent education,” West said during the 3.5-hour meeting, held via videoconference. “One thing I would like added is I believe in order for us to execute on these goals, we are going to need budget dollars to bring in an expert consultant. I don’t think this is work that we can do alone. I think many districts have already or are hiring DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] leaders for their districts.