Updated Guidance for the Use of Mitigation Strategies in Connecticut’s PreK-12 Schools as the result of COVID-19

On August 19, 2021, the Connecticut State Department of Education issued updated guidance for the use of the latest mitigation strategies that will be used throughout Connecticut’s Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade schools. The latest update, consisting of 9 pages of content, is guidance that local school districts should follow and use to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus pandemic among students and communities. I have briefly highlighted and summarized the guidance below for the benefit of our readers and followers.

First, the guidance emphasizes the importance of getting children 12 years of age and older vaccinated. This is one of the most effective strategies to protect our kids not only while at school, but also within our greater communities against the virus. To ensure all children 12 years of age and older have access to getting vaccinated, the Connecticut Department of Health is planning to partner with the Connecticut State Department of Education to provide “on-site” vaccination clinics at all middle and high schools during the fall 2021 semester. Weekly screening testing programs will also be available at schools for students that are not yet eligible for the vaccine at Pre-K-6 schools.

Second, the guidance underscores the importance of having our kids return to school for full-time, in-person learning. Students no longer need to remain within a cohort learning pandemic pod. Fully vaccinated students and school staff no longer need to quarantine from school if they come in contact with a COVID-19 case and remain symptom-free. Additionally, interscholastic sport programs start on time this Fall. That said, if you or your child are immunosuppressed or immunocompromised and need to explore homebound instruction or remote learning opportunities for your child, our firm stands by to assist you with establishing an exception to the return to school full-time, in-person mandate.

Third, masks are mandated for all students, including vaccinated students, at least through September 30, 2021. The guidance does not address and is silent what happens after this date. Presumably, additional guidance will follow and will be dependent upon the latest COVID-19 statistics at that time. However, all students and staff do not need to wear masks outdoors from day one, regardless of vaccination status. Teachers that are fully vaccinated will be permitted to remove their masks during active instruction at the front of the classroom.

For more details and specifics on the last guidance, you can download the full copy of the updated guidance here or call our office to more fully discuss.

Jeffrey L. Forte, Esq. is a special education attorney and certified child advocate. Forte Law Group, represents families that have a child with a disability and helps parents protect the educational rights of all children. www.fortelawgroup.com