Classroom or remote learning? Choice for Connecticut parents

Parents will have a multiple choice question to answer this fall — should their children continue remote learning or attend school — and for what period of time?

These options are all in keeping with Connecticut’s guidelines for the coronavirus amid the pandemic from the virus, but the new “fluidity” adds a range of new challenges for educators.

The state is asking schools to “plan for parents and students who may temporarily choose not to participate in the return to school,” according to the “Adapt Advance Achieve: Connecticut Plan to Learn and Grow Together.”

Students may opt to stay home because of health issues. “However, parents and guardians may also voluntarily choose for students to temporarily engage in learning from home for a variety of other reasons,” the state document says.

“So we are solving for a very complex problem, which is we are keeping those students at home as closely as aligned with what’s happening in the classroom to allow for that fluidity of motion back and forth,” New Canaan Superintendent of Schools Bryan Luizzi said during a Facebook forum hosted by Democratic state Rep. Lucy Dathan of New Canaan and Democratic state Sen. Will Haskell of Westport on July 16.

Local educational agencies “should develop temporary support options for students who continue remote learning from home, including but not limited to offering families the robust educational support options,“ the document says.

“The only thing that is different is who is in the room and who is not in the room. I think that is the most simplistic way to describe it,” Bethel Public Schools Superintendent Christine Carver said at the forum.

“We will have some who may opt out, which is perfectly fine. We have others, who because of the conditions of their families, or others, may have to quarantine for a period of time,” and “then those who opt out may choose to come back, and others who are there to begin may choose to go out,” Luizzi said.

“So, there would be that fluidity in and out,” he added.

“The whole idea that kids are going to be coming in and out and adds a very different layer from what we had in the spring,” Ridgefield Public Schools Superintendent Susie Da Silva said at the forum.

“As a result, what are the opportunities that we have to provide children with an experience that is either streamed into their classroom for part of their days, so if they are coming in and out, or if the conditions change we can run parallel from one day to the next,” Da Silva said.

During remote learning students experience synchronous learning, which is learning in real time with the teacher; asynchronous, or independent learning; and a hybrid of the two.

Bethel is considering “a combination of synchronous learning environment where students can participate in the class, so if they opt for distance learning, they can participate in (the) classroom environment,” Carver said.

“If you have to move between phases, it is seamless,” she added.

“Of course, as a public school, if somebody tells us on Monday that they are going to stay home, and then on the following week say they would like to come back to school, our doors our open. Let’s figure that out and make that happen,” Luizzi said.

“I am sure that a lot of parents who may decide they are cautious at the beginning, they want to keep their kids at home, will be relieved to know their children will also have high quality educational opportunities,” Haskell said.