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Groton superintendent announces plans to shift students to more in-person learning

Groton — Thanking families for their hard work and dedication throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the superintendent on Friday announced plans to shift students to more in-person learning.

A survey is being sent to parents with two options: they can commit their children to more in-person learning, or they can choose fully remote learning through the remainder of the academic year. The hybrid learning mode will be discontinued.

In a letter to families in the district, Superintendent Susan Austin said the move was made possible thanks to the state prioritizing the COVID-19 vaccine for educators. A committee has been working on a phased-in approach “to bring back students four days a week, ensuring that health and safety protocols are in place in the best way we can,” she said.

Those plans include shifting students in prekindergarten through second grade to four days of in-person learning per week starting March 22. Students in the third through sixth grades will begin four days of in-person learning per week starting March 29. All other students would begin four days of in-person learning on April 5. Additionally, the district plans to bring in students for SAT and PSAT testing March 23-25.

All students would shift to four and a half days of in-person learning, with Wednesdays being a half-day of classes with take-home assignments, on May 3.

Students, teachers and staff members will practice 6 feet of social distancing wherever possible; in classrooms and cafeteria spaces where it is not possible, desk shields will be provided. Everyone will be required to wear masks during the day, except during snack, lunch and mask breaks in which 6 feet of social distancing will be practiced or shields provided. Hand washing and hand sanitizing between classes will be encouraged, the letter said.

Additionally, visitors to school buildings will continue to be limited, and any students or staff members who are feeling ill or have a fever will be advised to stay home. Those who become symptomatic at school or are contacts of positive cases will be asked to quarantine and get tested, the letter said. Depending on COVID-19 case counts and number of staff members affected, or incidents of inclement weather, the letter said there may be a need to shift temporarily to remote learning.

“We continue to work closely with Steve Mansfield, Ledge Light Health District Director, with health updates from the region,” Austin said in the letter.

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