Fairfield schools announce next year's reopening plan

Students return to full classrooms for the first time in a year at Ludlowe High School in Fairfield, Conn. on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

Students return to full classrooms for the first time in a year at Ludlowe High School in Fairfield, Conn. on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — As the 2020-21 school year winds down, school officials are already planning for the next school year.

After a tumultuous year in review while dealing with the pandemic, the district has set its sights on what reopening will look like next school year. In an effort to return to normal, the district is seeking the community’s help by asking parents to fill out a survey on the reopening plan.

“Having students back in front of us is something that we are very happy about,” said Andrea Clark, director of communications for Fairfield Public Schools.

While the plan allowed the district to return to in-person learning in March, it also positioned Fairfield to return to normal for 2021-22.

“We’re thrilled,” Clark said. “We were thrilled when we were able to bring all of our students back in March. There is no question that there is no substitute for in-person instruction.”

The plan includes several mitigation rules that will be in effect in September.

Under the plan, masks are required for all inside the school and within three feet or less in outdoor settings.

Social distancing will be maintained within three feet in all settings and whenever possible, students will be in cohorts.

The schools will be cleaned and sanitized, ventilation will be continuously monitored and contract tracing will be conducted with the Fairfield Health Department including, COVID-19 screening tests.

Vaccination clinics will be publicized through school communication channels.

While many of these rules are similar, if not the same, as the rules enacted when students returned to school in March, Clark said these rules will be updated to adhere to any changes from the local, state or federal requirements as well as feedback from the community.

The district will be taking the input from the survey and revising the plan until June 23. A finalized version of the plan will be submitted shortly after and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief application is due to the state in the middle of August.

Districts are required to issue the survey to be able to apply for funding from the American Rescue Plan.

According to the Department of Education’s website, the American Rescue Plan will deliver critical aid to states, districts, schools, educators, students and families as the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal is to implement use that federal money to promote safe school operations and to continue to strengthen teaching and learning.

“Part of the requirement for the funding is that we get feedback on that plan from parents so we structured it as an open-ended question,” Clark said.