COVID-19 Update June 3: Summer School Questions; Lamont’s Too Little, Too Late Graduation News; Wilton at 204 Cases

Gov. Ned Lamont made some school-related announcements on Wednesday, June 3 as part of his daily updates on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He released guidelines and rules for operating in-person summer school programs. He also made an announcement about high school graduations, slightly relaxing restrictions on numbers of people who can attend–a change that many people consider too little, too late.

Rules for in-person summer school programs

The CT State Department of Education released guidance to every school superintendent in the state detailing rules for operating in-person summer school programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The press announcement from the governor’s  office says that the rules were, “developed by the PK-12 subgroup of the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group with input of educators, students, parents, health officials, and the public.”

According to those rules, in-person summer school programs can begin on July 6, 2020, provided that locations comply with certain requirements, and the health and safety plans are reviewed with the district’s local director of public health and school medical advisor, if applicable.

The document released by the state outlines requirements for reopening that include:

  • Priority access for students who require the most learning recovery support, including obligations for extended school year (ESY) services, for students with special needs; students who are English Learners; students who have had limited to no access to devices to engage in virtual distance learning; or students who otherwise did not access educational materials despite the district providing the opportunity
  • no visitors allowed (unless required by an IEP)
  • group size limited to 10 students and one teacher
  • groups limited to classrooms (or other instructional areas) large enough to allow for six-foot social distancing between individuals
  • use of materials restricted between individuals (i.e. books, computers, calculators, writing utensils, art supplies) and daily cleaning and disinfecting of materials
  • safe practices (access to outdoor instruction, no-touch surfaces, ventilation, etc.)
  • face masks and shields
  • school bus protocols
  • cleaning and disinfecting protocols
  • health screenings and attendance logs
  • detailed bathroom protocols

In her daily update to residents, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said that many districts consider the guidelines “too hard and too costly to comply,” and intend to hold much of summer school on-line.

Wilton is still among the districts still on the fence. Wednesday following the governor’s guideline release, Andrea Leonardi, the assistant superintendent for student services, sent an email to Wilton Public School families that said she had hoped to announce plans for summer programs this Friday, but now the district will need to review the guidelines before making a decision whether to open with in-person services.

“[The state guidelines require] further study and consultation with a number of constituent groups including parents, community, our town Medical Advisor, the Department of Public Health, and our educational and operations leaders before we can make any final decisions about conducting face to face services. As a result, we will need to postpone any announcement until we can gather and review all plans against this updated guidance and determine the next steps for Wilton,” she wrote, apologizing for causing families any anxiety and stress.

The school district will hold a Community Zoom Forum regarding the 2020 Extended School Year on Monday, June 8, from 3-4:30 p.m.

New Way of Doing Things for Summer Camp Programs, Youth Sports, Libraries and More

Vanderslice added that many towns are similarly unsure about plans for summer camp, which have very similar guidelines set by the state. But in this case, town officials are moving ahead with its summer program schedule run by the Parks and Recreation Department.

“Wilton is one of the few municipalities in the area committed to providing summer camp.  It has been hard work for Parks & Recreation Director Steve Pierce, his staff, and other town personnel to develop the protocols to comply with the State guidelines. With each new step forward, we are required to recreate the way we do things,” she wrote.

This Saturday, the CT Department of Economic and Community Development will release the guidelines for youth sports and the nine sectors opening on June 20:  amusement parks, bowling alleys, gyms and fitness studios, hotels, libraries, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors and movie theaters. There are similar guidelines and requirements for businesses in each of those sectors.

Lamont OKs Group Size Increase for In-Person High School Graduations as of July 6

Lamont also announced Wednesday that in consultation with Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona and state public health officials, he will permit school districts to hold in-person graduation ceremonies beginning July 6, 2020. Schools must follow certain guidelines, including requirements that they be held outdoors; are limited to a maximum of 150 people in attendance (including graduates); and follow proper social distancing protocols.

Present requirements related to drive-in ceremonies will continue to apply if schools decide not to hold in-person ceremonies, including requirements that schools comply with all public health-related rules, orders, and instructions; and that cars parked immediately next to each other keep all car windows closed, while cars parked at least six feet from each other may open windows. All individuals in the car must wear masks.

Vanderslice reported that several municipal leaders from around the state expressed their frustration directly to the governor. On [Wednesday’s] call with the Governor and his staff, when called out, they acknowledged that this new guidance provided relief to very few public high schools, but it was firm.”

AAA Reopens Licensing Services at Eight CT Retail Stores

AAA announced Wednesday that it has reopened eight of its retail stores in Connecticut and is now providing Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) licensing services. However, customers are required to make appointments in advance in order to provide for social distancing. Previously, these services had been available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Officials at the DMV stress that deadlines for all licenses that expire between March 10-June 30, 2020 have automatically been extended by 180 days, so it is not necessary to renew these credentials until that extension has expired. However, anyone who would like to get a license renewed now has the option to get this done at AAA retail stores.

The AAA stores that have reopened include Avon, Cromwell, Enfield, Manchester, Old Saybrook, Southington, Waterford, and West Hartford.

Appointments with AAA can be made online.

By the Numbers (for June 3)

  • New Fairfield County cases:  13   (Note:  Vanderslice wrote that the significant drop in the number of new cases coincided with a drop in the number of tests performed)
  • Total Fairfield County cases:  15,789
    • 15,087 laboratory-confirmed
    • 702 probable
  • Total Wilton cases:  204
    • 178 confirmed
    • 26 probable
  • Fairfield County hospitalizations:  134 (-19)
  • Total deaths in Fairfield County:  1,289 (+2)
    • 998 laboratory-confirmed
    • 291 probable
  • Total CT cases: 43,091
    • 41,051 laboratory-confirmed
    • 2,040 probable
  • New CT cases: 112
  • Total tests performed in CT:  274,396 (+5,824)
  • Total deaths in CT:   3,989 (+17)
  • CT hospitalizations: 406 (-28)

It is important to note that these newly reported updates include data that occurred over the last several days to a week. All data in this report are preliminary, and data for previous dates will be updated as new reports are received and data errors are corrected.

Visit the state’s coronavirus webpage for several additional charts and tables containing more data groups, including a town-by-town breakdown of positive cases in each municipality and a breakdown of cases and deaths among age groups.