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Stonington establishes task force to create school reopening plan

Stonington — The Board of Education on Tuesday established a community advisory task force to assist with the planning needed to reopen schools here this fall.

The task force will consist of Superintendent of Schools Van Riley, who will serve as chairman, Assistant Superintendent Mary Anne Butler, other school administrators and staff members, a student representative, one member each from the education, selectmen and finance boards, two parent or community representatives, at least one with a medical background and one from each side of town, a teacher selected by the teachers’ union and a representative from the Stonington Community Center.

Board of Education Chairwoman Alexa Garvey said she will work on naming people to the task force over the next two days.

The task force will hear updates from school administrators as to the legal and safety requirements related to the reopening, discuss the safety, financial, facilities, staffing and other issues, such as surveys of the community, and advise Riley on his recommendations to the Board of Education.

Plans call for Riley to make recommendations on the reopening to the school board by July 24. That recommendation will contain input from the task force. The school board will make the final decision on the reopening.

The task force’s first meeting is scheduled for July 8.

The state has said schools should plan to reopen in the fall, with mask-wearing, frequent cleaning of facilities and social distancing protocols in place. Garvey has said plans will be in place for both in-school learning and access to virtual learning.

Riley cautioned the board that the plan it approves will not be the final plan because there could be many changes between July 24 and the start of school.

With the state asking districts to reconfigure available classrooms and spaces to maximize social distancing, some residents have suggested the school system could look at reusing the former school administration building in Old Mystic and the former Pawcatuck Middle School, which is now partially used for school administrators, for additional classroom space. 

j.wojtas@theday.com

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