Board of Ed: Spring break modified, June 11 is Darien High graduation
At a Board of Education meeting that was live-streamed from board members’ homes and the Board of Ed meeting room, members unanimously approved adding spring break dates back to the school calendar.
Originally scheduled for April 6 through 10, the board approved making April 6 through April 9 school days, keeping April 10 as a day off, and adding April 13 as a day off.
This follows the closure of Darien and the rest of the state schools as per orders from Gov. Ned Lamont through April 20 to battle the spread of the pandemic COVID-19. Gov. Lamont also said this week on a radio interview that he could see schools not reopening until fall.
As of March 24, there have been 13 cases reported in Darien, and 618 cases on Connecticut as per First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. There have been 71 hospitalizations in Connecticut and 12 deaths — seven of which were in Fairfield Count. Over half of the state’s reported cases, 384, are in Fairfield County. There have been 5,300 tests administered in Connecticut to date. Approximately 50 tests were administered at Darien’s first town testing site on Monday at Darien High School.
The Connecticut State Board of Education has agreed to waive the 180 days of class requirement, in cases of unavoidable emergency, such as the Coronavirus outbreak.
After several Fairfield County school districts closed amid coronavirus concerns, a group of superintendents wrote to the state to obtain credit for their e-Learning lessons toward the 180-day requirement.
Darien schools were closed indefinitely beginning on Thursday, March 12. eLearning began officially on Monday, March 16.
Board members discussed the impact that a full week of spring break could have on consistency with eLearning when deciding whether to add the days back.
Schools Supertintendent Alan Addley said while he thought a full spring break would be too much of a disruption to eLearning, adding a long weekend break was important for students and teachers.
“I think it would helpful to our staff and to our families. I think people feel a little stir crazy and a little break from the process would be helpful for everyone. It will allow us to continue the momentum of eLearning without a full break. That would be my recommendation,” Addley said.
The board approved that unanimously.
Discussion then turned to the setting of the graduation date for June 11. Some board members discussed how the initial two days of closure, which were viewed as snow days, counted
Board member Debra Ritchie asked how staff development days played into that date as it is traditionally the last day of school.
Assistant Superintendent Susie Da Silva said that the eLearning process allows staff development every day as staff is constantly talking to principals and supervisors to work on eLearning.
Board member Dennis Maroney asked how the school actually was able to remove dates from the original last day of school, June 15, given the snow days used.
Board Chairman Tara Ochman pointed out that the board was only setting the graduation date and also that the governor had given flexibility on the 180 days with the waiver.
If for some reason, Ochman said, in the unlikely chance that something might change in terms of the days required to complete the year, days could be added after the graduation date.
The Board of Education meeting was also the last meeting for Da Silva, who has accepted the position of Ridgefield Schools’ superintendent. Ochman thanked her for her service to the Darien Schools, and the board gave her a round of applause. An emotional Da Silva wished the district and the board the best.
On Sunday, Darien Schools Superintendent Dr. Alan Addley updated parents on Sunday with a letter and video as to the status of the district’s eLearning as schools remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Addley
Addley also asked for school families’ patience as eLearning continues, and also asked the district community to respect social distancing and limit gathering.
“Please remember that all district buildings, athletic fields and playgrounds are closed,” he said.
Addley also shared an informational video with parents that can be be viewed on their website, https://www.darienps.org.