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. WiFi has to be there because we are live-streaming our classrooms, for students at home. So we are working through that.”
The comments came as Luizzi introduced an operations plan—called “Charting Our Course” and continuously updated online—that calls for all students to have in-person learning at the public schools on Oct. 5.
Parts of the guide refer to expanded use of outdoors spaces—for example, for meet-and-greets with parents and mask breaks.
“When possible, physical education will be delivered outdoors and maintaining social distancing,” guide says. It adds, “Outdoor spaces will be used to reduce the occupancy in the cafeteria during lunch periods.”
Another part of the guide says, “Educators are encouraged to incorporate additional opportunities for movement in and/or out of the classroom through stretching, seated yoga, walking outdoor classrooms, etc.”
Board of Ed Secretary Jennifer Richardson asked what’s being done to preserve school campus safety amid increased use of outdoor areas.
Luizzi responded that in putting together the operations plan, officials “have had to make lots of hard decisions.”
“One of them was about parent volunteers in the building and what to do around safety and security outside the building,” he said. “We are going from a place where all the doors are locked and you have to be let in, to talking about teaching outside. So it’s a big shift, but we are prioritizing along the way.”
Volunteers won’t be allowed in the school buildings, the campus likely will be closed to activities such as dog-walking—a popular use of the properties during the school day—and some drivers for the district will be assigned between runs to help out by walking school grounds with radios, Luizzi said.
“We have our campus monitors,” he said. “We do not anticipate traffic coming in.”