BOE Discusses Full In-Person Return, Spring Sports

Stamford Public Schools has confirmed plans for a return to in-person instruction five days a week for its students.

Stamford Public Schools has confirmed plans for a return to in-person instruction five days a week for its students.

Rylie Walker, Reporter

Tuesday, February 23, 2021, there was a regular Board of Education meeting discussing the probability of returning back to school 5 day a week. Many board members expressed contrasting opinions on our current situation and how we should move forward as a community. 

The meeting was hosted by president Jennienne Burke. There were approximately 113 people watching the meeting and waiting for an answer. 

The first topic of the night was student and staff achievements, directly after which they moved onto the Superintendent Report by Dr Tamu Lucero. She first thanked our custodians for helping make the safety calls during the massive amount of snow we have gotten in the past few weeks.

Lucero then transitioned to the Covid-19 update. Monday, February 22, 2021, the CORE committee met to discuss students returning to school full time. The governor and CDC have agreed that starting on March 1 all teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria workers will be eligible to start the vaccination process. 

Lucero said she met with Stamford Hospital and Dr. Jennifer Calder from the health department to give all names provided by HR to start scheduling those on the list for vaccinations. All SPS teachers will receive information in an email about registering for the vaccine by the end of the week, she said. 

Meanwhile the CDC recently amended a footnote saying the need to adhere to the 6 foot social distancing rule is not necessary anymore.

Lucero stated, “I get information from the CDC 3 times a week regarding whether or not it’s safe to return full time to school. I get told when we take the next steps.”

The final answer about a full reopening came  towards the end of Lucero’s superintendent report. Their final determination was that when all staff are fully vaccinated then they will reconsider returning in full. The timeframe they gave was approximately six weeks from next Saturday at the earliest. The board believes by then all staff will be vaccinated and it will be safer to return.

The Health and Safety Committee said that family engagement is necessary to help this return to school. The Public Service Announcements they send out only work if many people decide to get vaccinated. This will be the final determination on whether or not we do return to school full time.

After the Superintendent Report concluded they moved onto the public speakers.

Lisa Butler, a parent of two high school students, spoke out on behalf of the mental health of high school students during these times. She stated that “we need a reopening day now, not two months from now.” Covid protocol has been detrimental to students’ mental health, and within her research she found that “New York City reported that three kids took their lives last week.” These kinds of statistics are alarming to her and other parents. She is concerned that with no official reopening date that “Stamford students will continuously be behind academically.” 

Next was Amy Nelson, she has two elementary school aged children, she has a petition with over 762 supporters. This petition is specifically about the way in which we return. She believes that children in grades K through 5 need to return first. 

Lisa Kagan spoke out on her support for Nelson’s petition. She agrees that younger children need to be prioritized. After they return in full, then older kids can return slowly.

Another public speaker was Jen Werely, she is a local physician, she said that as a parent and a medical advisor that “our kids’ well beings and success need to be put first”. She said that she reached out to the Association of American Physicians and they specifically stated the “emphasis on in person learning.” They believe that online learning is destructive to a young child’s mind and now that we have a vaccine Covid could possibly subside.. She ended her speech by saying “our children cannot advocate for themselves.” 

The board also gave the CIAC’s statement on sports currently. They re-evaluated the possibility of having spectators at these winter sports events. But yet again, they decided it was safer to not have anyone in attendance, so the answer to this question is: no, there will be no spectators allowed at any winter sport for the rest of the season. They will re-evaluate this once spring sports start. They also intend to have a regular spring sports season, just starting a week later. 

The big question of whether fall sports will be allowed to be played in the spring? Has been definitely answered: no, these fall sports who had shortened or no season will not play during the spring.