Return to Learn FAQ

Return to Learn FAQ

July 22, 2020

1. Will Hartford Public Schools reopen in Fall 2020?

In accordance with current state guidelines, Hartford Public Schools will prepare for full-time, in-person instruction for Fall 2020. However, for parents/guardians who are not comfortable returning their child to school, there is an option to continue online learning. The first day of school is Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

 

2. What information did you use to develop plans to safely open in Fall 2020?

We are following guidance from the State Department of Education, our local health department, and education partners. This guidance might change and our plans would change accordingly. By request of the Department of Education, we have developed three models for returning to school: a full time in-person model, a full time online learning model, and a hybrid model. 

The voices of our students, family and staff play an important role in developing our plan for the 2020-2021 school year. We need to know from our community what worked well and what needs to improve. We also want to learn more about the barriers and challenges that our families are facing so that we can better collaborate with our community partners to meet those needs.

 

3. What will in-person schooling look like?

This option is a traditional, at-school learning experience with additional safety measures based on guidelines from health officials. Students will learn in school each day of the week. 

For the safety of all, we will implement the following safety measures:

  • All students and staff will wear masks in school. HPS will provide masks.
  • In classrooms, physical distancing will be practiced to the extent possible. PreK-8 students will be grouped in cohorts by grade level.
  • Regular hand-washing/sanitizing will be required for all students and staff. 
  • School buildings will be cleaned and sanitized daily.
  • School buses will serve all students eligible for transportation, and buses will be cleaned after each trip.
  • Meals: Grades PreK-1 will start the year receiving their meals in the classroom. Grades 2-12 will receive their meals in the cafeteria, with additional overflow spaces (if needed), with physical distancing. 

Families who start the school year with in-school instruction will have the option to shift to online learning, a model which is described below. 

 

4. Can my child continue with distance learning?

Yes.  Students whose families opt out of in-person learning can participate through fully virtual online learning. 

 

5. What are the different options for returning to school in the fall?

Options for SY20-21  Option A:
In-person learning (hybrid model if health conditions worsen)
Option B:
Online learning to start, option to change to in-person later
Description of Options In-person Learning: Students safely learn in school Hybrid: Students learn safely in school and away from school 100% Online Learning:
Students safely learn away from school 
More Details  In-person instruction: Traditional, at- school learning experience with additional safety measures implemented based on guidelines from governing entities. 

Students attend each day of the week.

Option for Distance Learning as needed for individual families who opt in

Hybrid Instruction: In the event that strict physical distancing guidelines are put in place for schools, instruction will be broken up into A/B groupings that use the following pattern.

Monday & Tuesday: Group A

Wednesday: All Distance 

Thursday & Friday: Group B

Option for Distance Learning as needed for individual families who opt in

Online Learning: Students attend classes from home on a regular school schedule, allowing for easier transition to in-person instruction when conditions are deemed safe by individual families.

Instruction delivered by certified staff but potentially not certified in the specific content area.

External Health Conditions A minimal and controlled level of COVID-19 in our community as determined by local health officials,  meaning new chains of transmission are limited. Authorities are advising residents to resume normal contact with others unless they’ve been exposed to the virus or are sick with the virus. A moderate, but controlled level of COVID-19 in our community as determined by local health officials, meaning there is demonstrated reduction in transmission and local healthcare systems are within capacity. Authorities are advising residents to remain vigilant, but to resume activities using recommended social distancing where possible. Not applicable 
Physical Distancing 6 feet of distance will be maintained where possible. In classrooms, however, students will likely be less than 6 feet apart. 6 feet of distance will be strictly maintained. Not applicable 
Transportation Buses will serve all eligible students needing transportation, likely meaning buses will be close to full capacity. Buses will serve all eligible students needing transportation. Given the reduced number of students going to school on any given day, buses will likely be at less than 50% capacity. Not applicable 
Each bus will be cleaned after each trip and at the end of the day. All bus riders must wear a mask. No student will be allowed on the bus without a mask. Bus drivers will have extra masks on hand for students without.
Health & Safety Precautions Masks for students and staff

Cleaning & Sanitizing

Food Services Grades PK-1 will start the year receiving their meals in the classroom. Grades 2-12 will receive their meals in the cafeteria, with additional overflow spaces (if needed), with physical distancing.  Breakfast at all grade levels will be “Grab and Go” breakfast carts for classroom feeding. Classroom feeding at lunch will be pre-packed in coolers for classroom feeding and served to students by teacher/adult.  Student meals will be distributed from HPS schools sites.

 

6. What is the deciding factor in whether we use in-person, online or hybrid learning?


There is no single factor that would decide whether to use in-person, online or hybrid learning. This is a complex situation that is changing continuously, and we are working to prepare for every contingency. In August, we will have further guidance from the state Department of Education and we will make a decision about what kind of schedule to follow. Regardless of the schedule decision, students will also have a fully virtual school option with HPS Virtual Academy.

 

7. What conditions would cause the district to change plans and how?

Per state guidance, Hartford Public Schools is preparing plans to return to in-person instruction in Fall 2020-21, with options for online learning and hybrid models. The following table, called the Operational Decision Meter, provides details about how the district would adjust if local health conditions change:

External Conditions If these conditions are present:
RED A severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in our community, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening. Authorities are advising residents to take action to minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs. The majority of students move to remote learning until COVID-19 threat level improves. Some small-group instruction may be allowed with strict social distancing protocols in place.
ORANGE A significant and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in our community as determined by local health officials, meaning that there is ongoing transmission of the virus. Authorities are advising residents to minimize contact with others and avoid medium or large gatherings. We will move to our Hybrid schedule with remote learning for all grade levels on Wednesdays so campuses can be deep cleaned. Social distancing protocols will be closely monitored and “high risk” activities may be restricted or prohibited.
YELLOW A moderate, but controlled level of COVID-19 in our community as determined by local health officials, meaning there is demonstrated reduction in transmission and local healthcare systems are within capacity. Authorities are advising residents to remain vigilant, but to resume activities using recommended social distancing where possible. We will move to our Hybrid schedule enabling six feet of separation for students who are attending in person on a given day. Wednesdays will be remote learning for all grade levels so campuses can be deep cleaned. Social distancing protocols will continue to be monitored and large group and/or “high risk” activities may be restricted.
GREEN A minimal and controlled level of COVID-19 in our community as determined by local health officials,  meaning new chains of transmission are limited. Authorities are advising residents to resume normal contact with others unless they’ve been exposed to the virus or are sick with the virus. We would use a M,T,TH,F schedule for all students. This will mean in many classrooms students will be less than 6 feet apart. Wednesdays will be maintained as remote learning for all grade levels so campuses can be deep cleaned. Large group and/or “high risk” activities will continue to be restricted as needed.

 

 

8. What if my child or someone in my family is at high risk of infection?

We know that some families may not feel comfortable sending or be able to send their children back to school in-person, so we will offer a full-time online learning option starting in 2020-2021. If you choose this option, you will have the opportunity to return to in-person learning if your preference changes.

 

9. What safety precautions will the school district take to minimize the spread of COVID-19? 

To keep our students, families, and staff as safe as possible, our schools will follow state guidance and safety measures, including but not limited to the following:

  • All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings while in school
  • In PK-8 grades, students will be organized into “cohorts,” or groups that stay together throughout the day to minimize contact
  • Student desks and workstations will be distanced to the extent possible 
  • School buildings will be cleaned daily and “high touch” areas disinfected
  • Signs will be posted in school buildings to remind students and staff to wash hands or sanitize, and wear face coverings
  • Hallways and stairwells will have designated foot-traffic patterns to direct students and staff to walk in one direction, at a distance
  • Grades PK-1 will start the year receiving their meals in the classroom. Grades 2-12 will receive their meals in the cafeteria, with additional overflow spaces (if needed), with physical distancing. 
  • Students who are eligible for bus transportation will be physically distanced and required to wear masks on school buses. Buses will be cleaned after each trip and at the end of every day. 
  • School staff will maintain records of students and staff who report COVID-19 symptoms in order to track and contain the spread of the virus

 

10. Will students be able to take buses to school?

Yes, school bus transportation is available to students who are eligible. However, safety precautions will include mandatory face coverings and physical distancing at bus stops and inside buses. Buses will be cleaned after every trip and at the end of each school day. 

 

11. Can you describe the “hybrid” model?

If Connecticut experiences a resurgence of COVID-19, the plan for full time, in-school instruction will change to the hybrid learning model. Under this scenario:

  • Across all grades (PK-12), half of the students attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other half attend in person on Thursdays and Fridays. 
  • On Wednesdays, all students learn remotely to enable time for teacher professional learning and deep cleaning of facilities

 

12. Will before and aftercare be available for the 2020-2021 school year?

We recognize the need for before/aftercare programs to continue and we are working to finalize how we can safely offer programs to support families and students. If conditions allow for in-person learning, the following guidelines would apply to before/aftercare:

  • Classrooms and cohorts: Students will be grouped into cohorts when feasible. Classrooms that minimize students’ exposure to other students and common areas will be utilized for on-site after-school programming.
  • Physical Distancing: Physical distancing will be adhered to by all providers and students participating in the program. 
  • Masks: All attendees in after school/extended day must wear a mask. 
  • Health Monitoring: Students coming to the after school/extended day program will go through the health check process, which entails a temperature check at the beginning of the program. After school/Extended Day employees will go through the health check process at the beginning of their shift.
  • Contact Tracing: Attendance will be taken each day and saved for contact tracing.
  • Cleaning: Spaces used for after school and extended day programming will be cleaned and sanitized daily. 

 

13. What happens if someone in school tests positive for COVID-19?

When there is a confirmed person with COVID-19 in the building, we will assess the risk and potentially close the building for 2-5 days to clean, disinfect, and contact trace in consultation with local health officials.

If there is no community spread, we will:

  • Consult with the health department as necessary 
  • Require sick students and staff stay home
  • Teach and reinforce healthy hygiene
  • Intensify cleaning and disinfection
  • Monitor for absenteeism
  • Assess group gatherings and events — consider postponing non-critical gatherings and events
  • Continuously monitor changes in community spread

If there is mild to moderate community spread, we will:

  • Coordinate with local health officials
  • Implement multiple social distancing strategies for gatherings, classrooms, and movement through the building
  • Consider ways to accommodate needs of children and families at high risk

If there is substantial community spread, we will:

  • Coordinate with local health officials
  • Implement multiple strategies for gatherings, classrooms, and movement though the building
  • Consider extended school dismissals
  • Consider ways to accommodate needs of children and families at high risk