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Framework for Connecticut Schools During the 2020-21 Academic Year

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Jun 252020
 

Yes, your children WILL be going back to school this fall.

There are a lot of rules set up for the 2020-2021 school year, comprised in cooperation with students and parents. The one sticking point that many are not thrilled about is that kids will be required to wear masks all day, which may very well prove to be difficult, especially for those younger than 10.

This is what the state has provided:

Guiding Principles

As Connecticut schools plan to reopen, the guidance and considerations outlined in this framework are grounded in six guiding principles:

  1. Safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff;
  2. Allowing all students the opportunity to return into the classrooms full time starting in the fall;
  3. Monitoring the school populations and, when necessary, potentially canceling classes in the future to appropriately contain COVID-19 spread;
  4. Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities who are emerging from this historic disruption;
  5. Fostering strong two-way communication with partners such as families, educators and staff; and
  6. Factoring into decisions about reopening the challenges to the physical safety and social-emotional well-being of our students when they are not in school.

These guiding principles require all districts to develop their plans with a certain level of consistency, however, they retain wide discretion in implementing approaches to reopening given unique local considerations.

School districts must balance their planning with contingency plans to provide robust, blended learning or remote learning for all grades in the event that a school, district, or region has to cancel or limit in-person classes due to health precautions.

Main Operational Considerations

Cohorting

  • Districts should emphasize grouping students by the same class/group of students and teachers (into a cohort) so each team functions independently as much as possible. Consider this methodology by grade levels.
  • Placing students in cohorts is strongly encouraged for grades K-8, and encouraged where feasible for grades 9-12.

Social Distancing and Facilities

  • Review building space and reconfigure available classroom space, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, to maximize social distancing, consistent with public health guidelines in place at that time.

Transportation

  • Districts should plan for buses to operate close to capacity with heightened health and safety protocols, including requiring all students and operators to wear face coverings.
  • Plans must be developed to activate increased social distancing protocols based upon community spread.

Face Coverings

  • All staff and students will be expected to wear a protective face covering or face mask that completely covers the nose and mouth when inside the school building, except for certain exceptions including when teachers are providing instruction.

Ensuring Equity and Access

  • Equitable access to education is a top priority that supports a full-time in-school model by mitigating any barriers to education or opportunity gaps that increased during the pandemic. Efforts to support equity, close the opportunity gap, and provide a wide range of support for students in the state are best achieved with in-person schooling opportunities for all ages.
  • Districts should identify gaps and develop action plans for reopening that specifically address inclusion, equity, and access for all learners with strategies and clearly defined action steps.

Orange Open Spaces In A COVID-19 World 

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May 312020
 

The Orange Conservation Commission wants to remind Orange residents of how fortunate we are to have nearly a thousand acres of open space which we can enjoy while being socially distant.

We have seen a dramatic increase in the usage of our trails by individual hikers, couples, and families. Folks have been very considerate of their fellow hikers by wearing masks when appropriate and remaining at least 6 feet apart and doing it with a smile to their fellow sojourners.

Unfortunately, we also have had an increasing number of users who have complained about unleashed dogs running free. We had an incident this past week in which a large unleashed dog attacked a woman at Turkey Hill Preserve who had a small dog in her arms. Police were called as were the Animal Control authorities. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries but it was very frightful for the woman and her puppy.

It is shameful that dog owners who do not leash their dogs are making our Open Spaces scary for people to enjoy. The OCC has asked both the OPD and Animal Control to step up patrols to identify irresponsible owners and issue citations and impose fines.

It is our goal to ensure that Orange Open Spaces continue to serve as refuges for the COVID-19- weary and our residents can get out of the house and take a walk in a safe environment.

Remember, we can get through this if we all work together.

Beardsley Zoo Re-Opening Plans Announced

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May 192020
 

Some Good News From Zoo Director Gregg Dancho:
As we move to re-open, I want to share with you our plan. The Zoo will open on Monday, June 1.  We are implementing a new online ticketing system to welcome everyone back safely and efficiently. The Zoo will be splitting the day into two sessions allowing for up to 500 guests per session. We will open the Zoo at 9 a.m. and will close at noon for cleaning. We will then re-open at 1 p.m. and close at 4 p.m.
We will be requiring all guests to wear a mask. And the more creative the better!
We have created a one-way loop around the Zoo so guests can explore while social distancing. All buildings will be closed to the public; however, guests will be able to pre-order food online from the café and pick it up from our take-out window. Also, the gift shop will be open for online purchases which will be made available for pick up at gift shop kiosk.
Ticket prices will be reduced from $16 to $15 for an adult and from $13 to $10 for a child and a senior and as always children under 3 are free. We will not be able to accept coupons or allow for any partner discount at this time. We also will not be able to rent wheelchairs or strollers.

A zoo volunteer interacts with the goats.

As we welcome you back under these new circumstances, we appreciate your patience as we look to be able to provide you the best Zoo experience in the safest manner possible.

We ask that you also please continue to check our website www.beardsleyzoo.org and our Facebook page for the most up-to-date information. We greatly appreciate all your support. We are thrilled have the sights and the sounds of guests back at your Zoo.
And I promise to continue to send you updates.
I

Beardsley Bart

would like to know what you are thinking. If you have a question, comment or concern please feel free to email me at info@beardsleyzoo.org. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Even though we have been continuing to work behind the scenes and even as we continue to provide enrichment every day for our animal residents, nothing is the same without you.
Your Zoo family, both two and four-legged, can’t wait to see you!
Gregg

CDC Adds Six New Possible Symptoms For Coronavirus

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Apr 262020
 

(Illustration from Shutterstock)

On Sunday, April 26, the CDC updated its list of “possible symptoms of the coronavirus” to include not only fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, but also chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and the new loss of taste or smell.

Be aware of these new “possible” symptoms, and if you are experiencing any of them, try to get tested as soon as possible. Be sure to wear a mask to protect yourself and others from contracting the virus.

Opinion: How Has the Pandemic Changed Everyday Life?

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Apr 082020
 

On Friday, March 13 — Yes, Friday the 13th — I went to my granddaughter’s school to pick her up for the last time. Thirty minutes later, my daughter called to tell me that school would be closed until the end of March, and I dropped my granddaughter off, saying goodbye with a huge hug, not knowing that it was the last hug I would get from her in a LOOOOONG time.

My daughter, who works in a doctor’s office, told me to stay home, no trips to the store or random visits and that I would NOT be caring for my granddaughter during the isolation period. She arranged to take her to work, seclude her in an office to do homework or go to her grandfather’s house or stay with her father, but I wouldn’t be involved, as I had been for the past 8 years, due to my age and health conditions that put me in the high-risk group.

I thought that I’d be able to at least go to the zoo and take photos since most of the animals are outdoors, but that idea was squashed on Monday, March 16, when Zoo Director Gregg Dancho announced that for the safety of the animals (which we have since learned was a wise decision), staff, and fellow zoogoers, the Beardsley Zoo would be closed until further notice.

I found with the isolation I finally had enough time to knit hats and scarves, mass-produce resin items (jewelry, paperweights, plaques, bookmarks, etc.) for my granddaughter’s school fair and binge-watch my favorite tv shows and of course, the Hallmark movies. Now I’m making face masks, sewing by hand since the power cord for the sewing machine was not in the box when I pulled it out.

I bonded even more with the newest rescue dog, Tori, who came from an abusive situation in South Korea in March 2019 and established my place as the alpha of the house. Both dogs are so much better at listening now. There’s no fighting anymore and that’s a positive.

Still, even as a solitary creature, I find myself feeling lonely on occasion. At 2:35 p.m. every weekday the alarm on my phone sounds warning me that it’s time to pick my granddaughter up from school — only now, I don’t go.

My daughter signed me up for the lunch program at the Milford Senior Center. I go there twice a week and pick up a bag with three meals in it. Since that started, my blood sugar and blood pressure have improved. She also makes dinner for me and goes to the grocery store for me.

She constantly reminds me how infectious the virus is and that it can stay on surfaces for a long time, so, even if I buy something on Amazon or from JoAnn for curbside pick-up other people have touched these items and they may or may not have been wearing gloves and may or may not have been infected.

She does bring my granddaughter around occasionally to decorate my front wall with sidewalk chalk. I love seeing that little girl, she’s been my life since she entered this world, and now we can’t even hug one another.

She always comes close to me to talk and I have to tell her to step back. Ouch, that really hurts.

She looks at me with the saddest eyes and tells me that she just wants to hug me. It really breaks my heart.

About twice a week I go out just to see if anyone is complying with the safety rules. It’s disheartening to see how many cars still fill the parking lots of some stores I wouldn’t consider essential. I haven’t gone shopping inside a store since March 15, but you can observe a lot from inside your vehicle.

After gloves and masks were recommended for everyone’s safety, only a fraction of the people out there are taking it seriously. This crisis is not over yet, and if everyone would just do their part then this last month of isolation won’t be for nothing.

Wear a mask, wear plastic gloves, especially if you are an employee, touching customers’ items. Let Orange Live know when you see something out of sorts – food prep or grocery workers without gloves,  any store that is overcrowded, etc. Let us know and we’ll get the word out.

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, We’re all in this together

Take care, everybody. Wash your hands, wear a mask and gloves. if you have to go out, But if you can, just stay at home!