Wider Use of Remote Learning Set for Middle, High School Students

Jan 5, 2022 | Education, Health | 0 comments

WESTPORT — With more students missing school because surging COVID-19 cases — some identified as having the virus, others quarantining after being exposed to someone who has it — Supt. of Schools Thomas Scarice on Wednesday detailed “temporary” at-home learning options for middle and high school students.

According to the school district’s COVID dashboard, so far this week 148 cases have been positively identified (inclusive of students and staff), while last week there were 205 cases.

As local school officials have noted, widespread remote learning — the kind implemented during lockdown at the peak of the coronavirus’ first wave — is not currently permitted under state guidelines.

But, Scarice said, for a limited time — anticipating the highly infectious Omicron variant will begin to wane within a month — a new “model will enable students who are home due to isolation for a positive COVID test, in quarantine or demonstrating symptoms, to observe classroom lessons remotely” from Bedford and Coleytown middle schools and Staples High School through Jan. 28.

This remote classroom access, he said, is expected to be available by Monday, Jan. 10, “at the latest,” he said.

The school district technology team currently is “checking all equipment to ensure success.”

Under newly shortened self-isolation guidelines set by the federal Centers for Disease control, most students who have COVID or have been exposed to it “will miss less than five school days, particularly if their time away from school includes the weekend,” Scarice said in the announcement.

The remote “accommodation will enable students to observe classroom instruction to remain current in the content taught. Our teachers will maintain their ‘in-class’ instructional approach, and students who cannot attend school for these three reasons will have access to observe and listen.”

The superintendent stressed the expanded remote access should be used only by those students who meet the three specified criteria. It should not, he added, “be misused, which unfortunately occurred too often last year.”

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