SOUTHINGTON – Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan said faculty has worked hard to successfully implement distance learning for students at home due to the coronavirus. Starting this Wednesday, those students will also be able to benefit from a meal pick-up plan.
Connellan said school staff had been preparing for the past three weeks for the coronavirus and the resulting home quarantining that has since been put into place.
“We surveyed parents in our district about the availability of internet and access to devices to use for students,” he said. “We then worked with Verizon to get internet hot spots set up for families without internet. We have distributed hundreds of Chromebooks for students to use on loan.”
Teachers, Connellan said, have been provided with guidelines on how to teach via Google Classroom. Additionally, work has been emailed to students to be printed out at home.
“In a few weeks we created a distance learning system that would normally take a year to build,” he said. “We have had a few complaints but for every complaint we’ve had about 10 parents praising our faculty on the hard work they are doing. Our system is not perfect but it can be improved and we are making improvements based on feedback. This is an all hands on deck effort and overall I think we have adapted well.”
Connellan said information about when students may be able to return to school has been “evolving.” Previously, state officials had said students could return April 1. Now, the governor said it will be April 20 at the earliest. However, the governor has also said it may be fall by the time students return.
“I personally doubt that we will be back by April 20 due to what I’m hearing from public health officials,” Connellan said. “My concern during this partial shutdown is that we practice social distancing and give it time to work.”
Connellan said he hopes schools will be able to return by May. However, he has been in communication with Steve LePage, Plainville’s superintendent of schools, to discuss what options there may be for celebrating graduating seniors in case schools remain out until fall.
This week, Southington elementary schools and middle schools began preparing bags of a combination breakfast and lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. People will be able to drive up to the schools and pick them up from their car between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. These meals will be available for all students.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.