Survey: 93% of New Canaan Public Schools Parents Will Have Their Kids Start Academic Year with In-Person Learning  

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The new access road between Waveny and New Canaan High School is under construction. This photo taken Aug. 21, 2020. Credit: Michael Dinan

Some 93% of New Canaan Public Schools parents are choosing to have their kids start the academic year with in-person learning, as permitted, as opposed to going fully remote, district officials said this week.

Reporting on the results of a survey focused on an academic year that will open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said Monday night that the parents of about 400 students still had not completed their survey, which was scheduled to close 2 p.m. Tuesday.

“What we have to do is assume anyone who does not respond is in remote learning,” Luizzi said during a special meeting of the Board of Education, held via videoconference. 

The 2020-21 school year will open next Monday under a phased plan that Luizzi outlined at a Board of Ed meeting earlier this month (a continuously updated operations guide can be found here). It calls for students in grades one through 12 to be divided into one of two cohorts that will attend school in-person roughly half the week to start the school year (kindergartners will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions). Should health data and state guidance allow it, then starting Sept. 21, kindergarten through grade four will transition to 100% in-person learning, under the plan, with Saxe Middle School (Sept. 29) and New Canaan High School (Oct. 5) to follow. 

Board of Ed member Dionna Carlson noted at the meeting that parents who don’t fill out their survey will be left off of the bus routing. 

Luizzi said that this year, survey results showed that about 48% of students are requesting a bus.

“Which is significantly less than usual, so we are working through [that], and you are right Dionna, we are going to move the folks who are remote out of the routing in order to save some time in those bus runs, as well,” he said. “That’s good news for the buses, and again, opening at 50% like we are will help us figure out the balance.”

Construction is underway of a new road connecting Waveny near the water towers with the south lot of New Canaan High School—a project that is expected to ease traffic on Farm Road at a time when more people are driving their own vehicles to NCHS.

The Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting Aug. 18 voted 3-0 in favor of a $130,000 contract extension with Norwalk-based FGB Construction to complete the access road. 

Maria Coplit, town engineer in the Department of Public Works, said in presenting the extension, “Due to the coronavirus, there are concerns of increased traffic due to parents driving their children to school to provide adequate social distancing in lieu of the use of school buses. The access road, therefore, is necessary for the start of school and beyond.”

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