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Connecticut teachers' union leader urges switch to all-remote learning

HARTFORD (AP) — The leader of Connecticut's largest teachers union is urging school superintendents statewide to switch all classes to remote learning until at least the middle of this month, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Jeff Leake, president of the Connecticut Education Association, said many students and educators were to return to classrooms on Monday, before potential virus surges from the holiday season are over. He said many school districts already have moved to all-distance learning through mid-January.

“While no one is more eager to return to the classroom than Connecticut’s dedicated teachers, detecting and stopping the spread of COVID-19 must be the top priority,” Leake said in a statement Sunday evening.

Leake also called on the state to mandate more COVID-19 testing and said a new survey by his union and the American Federation of Teachers shows “schools are not the safest places for children or educators” amid a pandemic.

Gov. Ned Lamont and state education officials have been allowing local school officials to decide whether to switch to all-remote learning but have been advocating for schools to be kept open, saying it's better for students.

Since the school year began, nearly 8,500 students and 3,600 educators in Connecticut have tested positive for the coronavirus. The state has 528,000 public school students and 52,000 educators. Infections have declined over the past few weeks, which included holiday vacations.

Leake noted that 162 of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns have been labeled by the state as coronavirus red alert zones, meaning they have averaged 15 or more coronavirus cases per 100,000 population a day for the past two weeks.



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