May 5, 2020
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 5: Closing Schools for Rest of Academic Year
Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut held a press conference on COVID-19 on May 5. Lamont announced the closing of Connecticut schools for the rest of academic year.
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Ned Lamont: (01:23)
Good afternoon everybody. Today we really want to talk about education and that’s why we have Miguel Cardona our great commissioner of education and Beth Bye, Office of Early Childhood, talk a little bit about the school year. Talk a little bit about summer school. Talk a little bit about summer camps and the fall, but first, let me just give you an update on where we are in the numbers. I’ll do this briefly.
Ned Lamont: (03:52)
As you can see, positive cases changed since yesterday, 448, fatalities 77, hospitalizations popped up a little bit. Remember we’ve had a good downward trend, I think it was eight days? One day is not something really to focus on, but it’s just to keep in mind that this is by no means behind us. And we did do a fair number of tests, 3,300 and least the infection rate amongst the positive cases was pretty low. On the next slide, the day to day change in hospitalizations, you can see what the downward trend was there and with one outlier.
Ned Lamont: (04:35)
But we watch this carefully because this COVID is highly infectious and there’s not a lot of margin for error. And you probably saw the present United States when he sat at Abraham Lincoln’s statue at the Lincoln Memorial where he said, “I thought we were going to anticipate 60,000 fatalities and now it looks like it could be closer to 120,000 fatalities.” Because that just reminds us that we better be very cautious as we plan going forward and that’s what we’re trying to be. And you know about our May 20 date, you know that we’re going to be able to outline a some more of the protocols in terms of how businesses on a limited basis can start opening on May 20th. We’re going to give you what those are protocols are. But it’s worth reminding that we’re looking at the facts on the ground every day and make sure what we’re doing is safe for you.
Ned Lamont: (05:36)
Yesterday the governor’s residence was pretty busy. We had dozens of cars driving around in circles, beeping horns, shouting, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Everybody was polite and socially distanced, I appreciate. But I was thinking, give me liberty or give me death. We can all be in libertarians and you should be free to be dumb if you want to, but not if it endangers others. And that’s what is so deadly about COVID that you’re not just endangering yourself, but by being lax and not taking the social distance and seriously, endangers everybody else. And when you wear a mask, it’s not necessarily to protect yourself, it’s to protect everybody about you. It’s a different way of thinking what your obligations are. And that’s why I continue to be strict about this and urge you to maintain the social distancing because that’s how we get this state going again. And that’s how we can keep to our May 20 date and beyond.
Ned Lamont: (06:45)
With that, as you’ve probably heard, Miguel and I had to announce that the school year in terms of classroom learning will not open up in this next cycle. It will not open up before June 30, not open up until the fall. Although, we’ll be able to talk about summer school and summer camps. Look, it breaks my heart. We were pretty early in terms of a lot of the social distancing and protocols we put into place. I wanted to do everything I could to find some way to keep the school year at least partially open just for a couple of weeks, some sense of conclusion for our students. But Miguel has been informed by superintendents and parents and teachers across the board, we see a continuing increase in infections in many regions of the state and this was no time to take that risk. Sadly, in terms of traditional classroom education that will not continue in this school year.
Ned Lamont: (07:50)
That said, I want you to know that we’re going to maintain education in a virtual sense. I ran for governor, I wanted to be the education governor. I thought this was the most important thing we could do. I thought the quality of our K through 12, the quality of our colleges, the amazing world workforce we had, positioned us for the 21st century and that was going to be my priority. Now, I’m the guy that has to say we’re not going to continue the school year in this cycle. That said, Miguel has been really good. We’ve taken the lead in terms of online learning, distance learning. This chart here, you can see those who can teach, those who can’t, teach virtually. Thank you Glastonbury teachers. I thought that sign said it all and that’s what we’re really trying to do right now.
Ned Lamont: (08:44)
We have tens of thousands of reading materials from Scholastic being distributed to our schools across the state last week and this week. Bridgeport, early child education, Bristol, Hartford, Norwalk, making sure that those kids continue to learn. We’re streaming the Scholastic content right now. Our teachers are amazing. They’re stepping up. They’re doing telephone classes, they’re doing Zoom classes, online classes and I think we’ve been presently surprised, haven’t we Miguel? That I think most kids are taking to this. Maybe a guy my age, it seems a little not the way I’m used to, but for these kids, they are. And they are continuing to learn and one of the things we’re going to be describing to you today is how they’re going to continue to learn this summer so we can help to bring people up to speed.
Ned Lamont: (09:41)
Miguel Cardona was telling me that he’s got a center where people can send in comments and we’ve had over 30,000 folks weigh in. Teachers, parents, like I said, superintendents, everybody because education involves us all and the passions were deep. I think the feeling was pretty strong that this is not the time to risk sending kids back into a classroom. A classroom is not a natural place for social distancing. A classroom is a place where people gather and we’re weighing that as we go forward into this new school year. Tomorrow, I should tell you, that we’re going to have our college and university team come in to tell you what we’re thinking about in terms of the colleges and universities. But first, I think I’d like just to have Miguel Cardona give you a little bit of our thinking about this current school year and what we do going forward. And then, Beth Bye follow on in particular with what we’ve done on daycares to date and going forward and in particular our summer camps as we try and keep our kids involved. Miguel?
Miguel Cardona: (10:50)
Thank you. Thank you, Governor and blessed to be here with Commissioner Bye as well. As you stated, class cancellation until further notice is difficult to accept for all of us, but one based on the decision of health and safety of our students, our families and our staff. As one former student put it, it’s not surprising, but it is devastating. For the students listening, your school year has not ended. Your teacher, school and district leaders and staff are committed to supporting your learning for the remainder of the school year while we know it’s not the same.
Miguel Cardona: (11:23)
On this teacher appreciation day, I want to acknowledge all the educators that have given tirelessly to their students while tending to their families and caring for their loved ones. Thank you. To the fifth graders, eighth graders and adult education students whose promotion ceremonies will not be typical, congratulations on your upcoming huge accomplishment. The Governor and I are proud of you. Seniors, as I shared last month, your high school and district leaders have been working hard with your input, trying to find a safe and appropriate way to honor your accomplishment. You worked hard and deserve to be honored. I think of seniors that I know, like Kyle, Mia, Angel Lee, and the impact it’s having on them. Students like Milan and Sophia who serve on our board, my heart goes out to you. You worked hard and deserve all the praise you’re going to get. Congratulations to those of you that are going on to college, career, armed forces and those of you that are staying in their community to make it better. We have over a month left of classes. Let’s finish strong, Connecticut.
Miguel Cardona: (12:33)
While this decision to cancel is not welcome by students, parents or educators, we know that we have to continue to look at this as a safety issue. Futher the guidance on summer school will be provided later this month with an emphasis on those students who may have additional learning needs. With proper social distancing and improving trends, the Connecticut Education Committee of the Reopen Taskforce hopes to be able to provide summer school options in July. We are actively planning what a safe reentry would look like and are eager to open up our buildings once again. To do this with the help of our [inaudible 00:13:09], we’re getting input from thousands of students, parents, educators, and community partners. Schools serve as communities of growth for our students not only academically, but socially and emotionally. And we look forward to welcoming you back in a safe way. Thank you, Governor.
Ned Lamont: (13:32)
Beth, how we looking for summer camps? Unmute, please.
Beth Bye: (13:43)
Thank you, Governor, for your leadership and Miguel, it’s been great to work with you and collaborate with you on the education subcommittee. Your comments are so important to so many families out there. The Governor mentioned childcare. I’ll just mention the childcare does remain open in Connecticut. Some programs have closed. The majority-
Beth Bye: (14:03)
… of centers, but some have remained open to serve those critical frontline workers in our state, and we’re so grateful for their service.
Beth Bye: (14:13)
The Governor asked me here today to talk to you about summer camps. Those that are licensed are regulated by the Office of Early Childhood, and there are also some operated by cities and schools. And so, the rules that we are designing for camps will apply to all summer programming for children.
Beth Bye: (14:34)
I think the Governor, Commissioner Cardona, and I all understand this has been a challenging time for families across Connecticut, and we’re hoping for some return to normalcy for children and families, knowing that summer camps can open for their children in an environment subject to coronavirus prevention guidance. The decision of the Reopen Connecticut team, OEC, and the State Department of Ed was that summer camps can open on June 29th. That gives more time and they will also have very specific guidance. Currently, there are about five camps that have opened to provide childcare to critical workers, and those can remain open as part of the childcare infrastructure. Other camps can open beginning June 20th. Working with Reopen, we’ve developed guidelines to assure added protective measures to reduce the likelihood of exposure to the virus for children and families. The camps that I have been in touch with at OEC, we developed a memo, that’s Memo 18 on our website, where you can look for guidance, and much of that will remain and there will be some additional guidance that will be released by May 15th. Right now, camps are making decisions about whether to open or not and that’s up to them, much like childcare programs made decisions of whether to remain open or not, and families are also making those decisions now about, “What are my summer plans for my children?” So know that the Governor has announced today that camps will not need to close, but they will need to live with some very specific public health guidance that we’ve worked out with Reopen Connecticut and the Health team, and with the Office of Early Childhood. So by May 15th, those will be released with all the specifics. Thank you. I’m happy to take questions.
Ned Lamont: (16:46)
Thank you, Beth, and we’re here to take questions, and Josh Geballe is here as well.
News 12 Connecticut.
Speaker 4: (16:55)
Hi, Governor. The CEA, the Teachers’ Union is calling for some very specific guidelines to reopen schools in the fall, including PPE for everyone, staggered school start times. A lot of the superintendents we’ve talked to today said those are great, but those are going to be very expensive and some of our districts are already slashing budgets. What can you tell them about what kind of assistance the state is going to provide them to make those things happen?
Ned Lamont: (17:27)
Well, Miguel is working with a great taskforce. It includes Don Williams from CEA. It includes teachers, includes parents, includes superintendents, looking at the facts on the ground, and we’ll figure out over the course of the next month or two, what the fall looks like, if that’s what we’re talking about now. What are going to be the requirements? What are going to be the class sizes? What are going to be the masks, and the such? I think it’s too early to make those predictions right now, but we’re going to give our school boards plenty of notice.
Speaker 4: (18:00)
Is the state prepared to offer them additional money though to make that happen?
Ned Lamont: (18:06)
Well, we’ll have to take a look at that in terms of what the requirements are there. We are getting some federal support for the schools as well. Isn’t that right, Miguel?
Miguel Cardona: (18:14)
It is right. Yeah, the CARES Act funding, which we applied for and we submitted the application yesterday, should provide some additional funds to support student needs.
Matt Austin: (18:35)
Hi, Governor. Matt Austin with NBC Connecticut. I was hoping to get a little more clarification about graduation for the high school seniors. Are you able to say if in-person graduations will be allowed or not? There was that petition going around for a statewide graduation to take place?
Ned Lamont: (18:53)
Miguel, do you want to start with that?
Miguel Cardona: (18:56)
Sure. Thank you. We know graduations are such an important part of the experience, especially for our seniors. We want to make sure that they’re acknowledged for the 13 years of hard work, so we have been in communication. If you recall, last month, when I was on with the Governor, we asked superintendents to give consideration to what graduation looks like and I’m really pleased to say that these districts have not slowed down.
Ned Lamont: (19:18)
I think we’re still looking at what happens later and seeing if you can have an outside graduation with the appropriate social distancing, and I think a determination on that will be made at a later time.
Speaker 5: (19:35)
For Commissioner Bye, I know it’s not the state’s job to find daycare for people but do you have any guidelines or suggestions on what to do as the state opens back up? People are heading back to work, and the kids aren’t in school.
Josh Geballe: (19:49)
Beth Bye: (19:57)
Yes, I appreciate that question. It gives me a chance to highlight that, indeed. We do have a system in place to help families find childcare, and it’s been pretty effective through the coronavirus emergency. Parents can call 211 Childcare and ask for childcare near their home or near their work, and they keep track every week, and we are tracking every week where the open spaces are and we’ve been doing a lot to support the supply that exists of childcare and not lose additional supply. So we know there’s still some supply and families can call 211 Childcare. We also have a program for frontline workers that’s open now that gives them a $200 subsidy a week to help them pay those childcare costs because we know they’re having to make additional arrangements if their programs are closed, and they can also enroll in that by calling 211 Childcare.
WTIC 1080 News.
Speaker 6: (21:04)
Good afternoon. On the 60,000 laptops, did most of them make it or are they going to make it, and is that something that could last into the fall with the distance learning?
Ned Lamont: (21:16)
They are going to start being delivered, I think, in the next couple of weeks. You’re right. It’s going to be phased in over a period of time, go into those commissioner districts, and it’s going to be integral to our ongoing learning. My hunch is going forward, you’re going to see a lot more online learning to complement what’s going on in the classroom.
Speaker 6: (21:34)
And I’m just being ask by somebody I work with about the one class, one graduation concept. I guess, that would be a plan for smaller ceremonies. Have you heard of that?
Ned Lamont: (21:46)
I have. What I’ve heard from the Reopen committee is the idea of doing one big thing on the same day across the state is probably not the right way to go, but they’ve reserved the option to say maybe we can have some outside graduations later on in the year, depending on the facts on the ground.
Speaker 6: (22:05)
I guess, some folks want to have all the high schools graduate on the same day?
Ned Lamont: (22:11)
That was one of the theories. Yeah, exactly.
Speaker 6: (22:14)
All right. Thank you.
Channel 3 Eyewitness News.
Speaker 7: (22:19)
Yes. Governor, I want to ask really briefly about hospitalizations. We were so close, but we did not make it to that 14 straight days of declines in hospitalizations. What impact is that going to have on reopening? Do we need to start all over again?
Josh Geballe: (22:36)
No. So the concept is a rolling average. So we know that particularly as the hospitalizations continue to decline, eventually they’ll flatten out. They’re not going to go to zero, and so the concept was 14 days of a continuous decline, but looking at a rolling average. So today is just one data point, but we’re obviously going to be watching it very carefully in the coming days.
Speaker 7: (22:57)
And as we look ahead to that May 20th date, we are hearing from restaurants and salons about not getting guidance of what they’re going to need to do once they reopen on the 20th. Do you have any benchmarks for them, what they need to be doing?
Ned Lamont: (23:14)
Yeah. I can tell you that our committee is working closely with the salons and restaurants, and all the other different industry groups out there, getting their very best ideas in terms of what are the protocols that keep their customers safe and keep their employees safe? And we’re going to be able to roll that out into a set of guidance, I think before the end of this week.
Jenn Bernstein: (23:42)
Hi, Governor. Jenn Bernstein here.
Ned Lamont: (23:44)
Jenn Bernstein: (23:45)
I just wanted to follow up on an unemployment issue, which you and I discussed last week. People are still not getting through to the Department of Labor and not getting money. Many say that they can respect the fact DOL is swamped, but they just can’t understand why a human can’t got on the phone or answer an email to them. Is there an update from the Department of Labor on the communication issue there?
Ned Lamont: (24:08)
Do you have an update on that?
Josh Geballe: (24:10)
Yeah. Well, first of all, we definitely acknowledge it’s been hard to get through on the phones at times. The team has been rapidly increasing the size of the call center staff there. I think it’s now quadrupled from where it was when this crisis began. They are working around the clock, trying to get back to people. I will just point out that the team through their hard work has now processed over 400,000 unemployment claims and we’re now just an inch short of a billion dollars of unemployment compensation that’s been paid out to the people of Connecticut. So the money is moving, but we do understand that some people have not been able to get through and how frustrating that is for folks, and we’re working around the clock to try to fix that.
Jenn Bernstein: (24:54)
And I know we discussed this a little bit yesterday with the doctors, but what’s the guidance on doctors in general, oral surgeons, dentists, orthodontists? I know that Dr. Saud Anwar talked about this as well as Dr. Petit a little bit, but it does seem complicated from a regulatory point-of-view in putting out an executive order and rules to follow. How do you tackle that?
Ned Lamont: (25:19)
Well, that is incredibly complicated. Obviously, dentist, for example, the nature of what type of masks, N95 or otherwise, it may be a required. So we’re taking a cautious look, and again, we’re talking to the Dentistry Association, getting the very best ideas we can in terms of how we can do this safely. I can tell you that Josh has been talking to the hospitals on a daily basis as well in terms of their being able to get back in terms of doing more of the elective surgery because some of that has piled up and it’s getting time to do.
Jenn Bernstein: (25:52)
Hearst Connecticut Media.
Thanks, Max. Governor, to what degree was there pushback from towns and school superintendents who maybe thought that they should have gone ahead for this last month-and-a-half of school?
Ned Lamont: (26:15)
Miguel has talked to each and every one of them, so he is better able to answer it but I didn’t hear much pushback. To tell you the truth, Ken, I was the guy probably saying, “Hey, let’s wait a little bit longer. Let’s see if there is some way we can have two weeks back there to give some completion.” But I think the overwhelming majority of parents, teachers and maybe even students thought this was the right thing to do.
And Commissioner, how would you describe the distance learning experience of the alliance schools, the inner city schools, the neighborhoods where kids don’t have wifi?
Miguel Cardona: (26:58)
Right. So I spoke to representatives from those districts and there are really good examples of distance learning in every district. In fact, on our website, we have webinars that were put on by districts, many of them alliance districts on great practices that are happening. New Haven presented one. But even in those communities, we know that there are some students that don’t have access to wifi. We know that there are students that don’t have access to a device, so we’re not slowing down at all in our efforts to try to provide equity and access throughout Connecticut, and I think that’s something that we’re going to be thinking about as we look to use our CARES stimulus funds to try to make sure that we’re leveling the playing field a little bit more in those communities.
Ned Lamont: (27:44)
And the telecom companies were pretty frank about saying they were going to expand wifi access to those kids in those communities, where they didn’t have access now at no-charge. So I think we’ll remind them of that commitment.
CT News Junkie.
My question is for Commissioner Cardona. What is being done with the special ed population? Is it possible to get a paraprofessional, or a teacher to go to a student’s house maybe sooner than even summer school at this point? Is that something that you guys are looking at?
Miguel Cardona: (28:23)
Thank you Christine. The Reopen Connecticut taskforce is really going to be driving a lot of the decisions that are going to be made with regard to our reentry. That has been discussed, and we’re discussing summer school options, and how to give access to those students that need access to learning, where the laptop doesn’t work. We know that students with special needs are students that we want to make sure we engage, but we’re going to do so not only with the Reopen Connecticut education guidance, but also with the health team’s guidance to make sure that we’re doing it in a way that’s safe for the staff member, but also for the student.
Okay, so that’s something that you haven’t come to a decision on yet?
Miguel Cardona: (29:03)
We haven’t come to a decision on what summer school will look like specifically for students with special needs, but know that that is one of the areas of focus that we really want to prioritize.
And would these summer schools be, the summer schools or even I guess the daycares be limited to 10 people as they are now?
Beth Bye: (29:25)
I can take that-
Miguel Cardona: (29:26)
Speak to the summer school, okay. Yeah. Thank you Beth.
Beth Bye: (29:30)
Thank you Christine for that question. Yes, we anticipate that the maximum group size will remain 10, as it is with childcare for camps.
Kathleen M.: (29:44)
Hi, Kathleen McWilliams here. My first question for the governor is what factors went into the decision to close this week, and why were you hesitant to make that call?
Ned Lamont: (29:56)
Well, we’re coming up on May 20th, so we had to give some pretty clear guidance, and I think we looked around the region, we looked around the state, we saw the fact that there still is an infection rate that’s not under control in all places. We saw that schools, maybe the students are local, but the teachers and administrators drive often a distance to get there, and we thought that this was probably the right decision to lend some clarity to people. At the same time, working with Beth and Miguel to make sure in July and August we were already getting ready for education, making sure there’s an educational component to the summer leading to the fall term again.
Kathleen M.: (30:41)
Thank you. And for commissioner Bye, you mentioned that there’s still some space in childcare programs in the state. Do you have a sense at what capacity these programs are filled right now?
Beth Bye: (30:53)
It’s a great question. It really varies a lot by programs. We have limited programs size to 30, so a lot of them are not at their usual capacity, although we have granted more than 50 waivers to programs to have more than 30 children, once they can show us that they can maintain the social distancing and separation of groups. I think that’s what’s key is making sure that if you have group sizes of 10, and sort of pods of 30, that you can maintain that separation as good public health practice. So we were estimating about a month ago that there still was supply we had not run into… we are measuring every day. We’ve lost some more centers over the past two weeks, but family childcare has remained open at about 60% we’re only about 25% of centers are open. So we do know there’s some supply and some of that is really driven by parents’ choices.
Beth Bye: (31:54)
As I talked about with the camps, some parents are choosing to keep their children with family and friends or to keep them at home with them. And I think parents will continue to make those calculations and watch these reports from Governor Lamont, and make individual decisions. But we do believe that our efforts to support supply with grants to programs that are open, recognizing the extra expenses are programs specifically for hospital workers. And some of our efforts that we’re just starting up to give a little extra support to family childcare are maintaining supply, and if that changes, we will implement other items to maintain that critical supply. Thank you.
Speaker 9: (32:47)
Hello. I am curious about school funding and given that municipality are currently proposing budget or their schools as well as the local district are going to be crafting their budget. I’m curious, governor, what your guidance is for providing funding for municipalities and what they should expect for education levels as well as whether or not municipalities will be able to reduce funding for their contributions towards educating.
Ned Lamont: (33:22)
Miguel if you’re there, do you want to start off with that?
Miguel Cardona: (33:26)
So yeah, thank you. We know that at this time with what’s happening in education, we need more, not less. We know that our students are experiencing trauma, so the need for social/emotional supports is great. The fact that we might go into school at a phased in model. We know that distance learning still will be a part of the tier one programming, so we want to send a message that it’s critically important to support our schools. Without said, we know that the impact of COVID-19 is going to affect all sectors including education. We’ve to identify the priorities for school funding, and where the funding should go from CARES Act, and we hope that while it’s very difficult to balance, we know that education is the foundation for many communities, and we want to make sure that our students are also supported during this time.
Commissioner Cardona, if you could turn your camera on as well. Thank you. Is that all for Connecticut Mirror?
Speaker 9: (34:21)
So just to follow up, I want to make sure I understand, as municipalities are beginning to make recommendations for funding levels for municipalities, should they be anticipating that the funding world remain level in anticipation of increased need that COVID has impacted communities?
Ned Lamont: (34:45)
I would just start, we’re trying to work off of a base of level funding as best we can, given the fact that we’re looking at the potential for a $3 billion shortfall next time next year. That said, we’re still negotiating down in Washington DC, see what type of support we get from Washington, and all the states around this, republicans and Democrats alike, because they’re going to help us with this guidance. They may be requiring smaller class sizes, and that would mean we’d need some additional teaching support to take over for the extra students in that other classroom. So there are a lot of contingencies we’re thinking about, but right now it’s too early to say, because we don’t quite know what the rules of the road are going to be coming forward in September. So that said, I think most people are working on a base case that we’re going to be pretty consistent the last year.
Speaker 9: (35:38)
And then just one quick followup as far as summer school code. The comments about June 29th and the summer program for camps. Does that also extend to summer school as well, that summer schools can resume summer school, then as well?
Ned Lamont: (35:56)
Did you hear that Beth? Or Miguel?
Beth Bye: (36:00)
I can take it, unless Miguel, you want to take it, either way.
And Commissioner Cardona, could you turn on your camera, please?
Miguel Cardona: (36:08)
I have it on, Max. I have it on.
Got it. Thank you.
Miguel Cardona: (36:12)
So with regards to summer school, we are working with the Reopen Committee to look at standards on how to reintegrate students, because as you know, most of the summer school programs, if not all of them will be inside the school house. So we have to make sure we appropriately plan for that, which is a little bit different than some of the camp programming.
Beth Bye: (36:31)
And I would just add to that that we’re really hopeful that the schools, and we’ll be communicating with schools that do post summer programs, summer camps, that they will make the buildings available, even if that’s before summer school starts. And I know Commissioner Cardona and I’ve been in touch with some of the leadership to make that request.
Speaker 9: (36:58)
Connecticut Public Media.
Allie Repasky: (37:03)
This is Allie Repasky for WNPR. What happens to students who lose ground during this distance learning? How will the state manage that? Especially for those students in more vulnerable communities in comparison to suburban students?
Ned Lamont: (37:22)
Well I’ll start with that. That’s in part why we’ve made such a big effort in terms of additional laptops, in terms of free wifi, and maybe just as importantly getting those Scholastic reading materials out bilingual. So to make sure that nobody is on the wrong side of that digital divide, that we maintain the communication. I’ve been talking to Miguel a lot about how we can at least bring this current school year to a conclusion in the sense that the teacher has a chance to at least by telephone at a minimum to get together with the parent, to get together with the child, talk about what they’ve learned in the last 90 days, where mom or dad thinks they are in the learning process. We think about who needs extra help perhaps during the summer, as we gear towards the new school year.
Miguel Cardona: (38:17)
Thank you. Governor. If I can add to that, the State Department of Education is developing online modules that we’re going to make available to all districts to support some of the learning loss. We’re going to provide this free of charge for all districts, and in some cases, districts are thinking about do they use their funding to try to buy online programming? What we’re saying is we want to provide the tools that our students need to limit learning loss. We’re also going to connect with summer camps, to make sure that they have that available, so any opportunities students get to engage with adults, it could be grounded around some of the learning concepts that they would have had in the grade level that they left.
Allie Repasky: (38:58)
Good afternoon everyone. Governor Lamont, there are over 528,000 students that speak a second language other than English at home. As a result, their parents are having trouble to adapt to the virtual learning, and trying to understand the language when helping their children. How is this take going to guide these families with a new virtual learning for positive outcomes?
Ned Lamont: (39:28)
I’ll start, then maybe Miguel, you can help me out with this. First of all, as I pointed out, all of our learning materials are at least at a minimum bilingual. Perhaps there’s some communities where we got to do a better job of helping people learn how to use the streaming technology, and the platform, and the electronics there, and I think we probably have to think about how we can do that to make sure nobody is left behind. Miguel?
Miguel Cardona: (39:56)
Sure. Yeah, thank you governor. And thank you for the question, Maricarmen. It’s critically important that subgroups of students that the laptop is not enough. Because if the materials are coming in in English, and the student doesn’t speak English, that’s challenging. We onboarded director of equity and language, Dr. Lovaas, who has over 30 years experience in teaching English to second language learners, and bilingual education. She’s working with districts to support their growth, and their ability to meet the needs of those learners. We’re also providing materials online, as mentioned by the governor in two languages, and we understand, much like students with special needs, that students that are learning English as a second language is another subgroup of students that we want to focus our efforts on as well.
Okay. My second question will be governor, chronic absenteeism towards learning [inaudible 00:12:55], whether at home or with a child. [inaudible 00:40:59] continue to give psychological and emotional support in this new era? Thank you.
Ned Lamont: (41:07)
Could you hear that Miguel?
Miguel Cardona: (41:10)
So the question was regarding meeting the needs of English learners when they come back into specific schools? Just want to make sure I got the whole question.
Allie Repasky: (41:24)
Or children, or teenagers and full age [inaudible 00:41:28] promptly absent from schools. And that’s the indication-
Miguel Cardona: (41:33)
Okay. Thank you. So yeah, sorry, you were breaking up a little bit. I couldn’t hear the question that well. So one of the things that we’re really focused focusing on is making sure that we’re engaging students that are harder to engage with this distance learning. So districts have family/school liaisons that are reaching out, staff members whose job it is just to reach out to reengage those students, because as you noted, that’s a concern for us. We still have communities in Connecticut that have a difficult time…
Miguel Cardona: (42:03)
… consistently getting students to engage in learning, and that’s an area that we’re continuing to focus on as well.
Speaker 10: (42:14)
The Day of New London.
Oh. Hey, guys. Kimberly [inaudible 00:42:21] from The Day. I wonder if you could talk a little more about if there’s going to be social distancing in place in the fall and what kind of support you’ll offer school districts to kind of accomplish that as far as facilities and any funding.
Ned Lamont: (42:44)
Go ahead, Miguel.
Miguel Cardona: (42:46)
Sure. So thank you for the question. Our schools were not outfitted for social distancing. If anything, we try to encourage, wherever possible, learning in community. We know that’s how students learn best. Some of the materials, the tables, the chairs, the classroom designs, have all promoted learning together. What we’re going to do is make sure that we take guidance from our health partners in the health committee to make sure that our buildings are safe for students and safe for staff. And that might mean that we take spaces like the cafeteria or the gymnasium and, for part of the day when they’re not in use, use them for learning spaces, or that we look creatively how we use big structures like media centers to split them up to provide opportunities for students to learn while maintaining that social distance. This is some of the work that we’re doing at the reopening committee and this is some of the work that we’re taking input from educators and different stakeholders throughout the State of Connecticut to be best informed to guide them as they think about this in the fall.
Speaker 10: (43:52)
Waterbury, Republican American.
Speaker 11: (43:57)
Thank you, Matt. Well, my first question is when will summer school start? Because you guys weren’t very clear on that answer. Is it June 29th? Is it before June 29th? Is it after June 29th?
Miguel Cardona: (44:12)
Sure. Summer school will start as soon as the Reopen Committee develop some guidance on how to provide summer school safely in schools. We’re hoping that if the trends continue the positive way they’re going and we maintain social distancing, we’re hoping to have summer schools opened in July. But again, a lot of that is dependent on what the trends are in Connecticut and what we hear with regard to how to maintain safe learning environment inside the school houses. We want to get it as early as possible, but not too early where it’s unsafe.
Speaker 11: (44:47)
What will it be the size [crosstalk 00:02:48]-
Miguel Cardona: (44:47)
Now let me just add to that. I’m sorry. We haven’t stopped providing distance learning opportunities or materials for students, so it’s not like we’re stopping learning. We anticipate that there’s going to continue to be a flow of information to families and students so that they can continue their learning, but the physical summer school opportunities within schools will happen likely July. We’d like to say shoot for July.
Speaker 11: (45:14)
What will the class sizes be? If the current limit on childcare is 10 in a setting, if social gatherings is five, how big classes going to be?
Speaker 12: (45:33)
Well, Paul, I can just say from our guidance, and then I’ll let Miguel go, is that… The guidance from the Center for Disease Control, our own Department of Public Health and the doctors working on the Reopen Committee are looking at the guidelines which do change as the Commissioner said. Having sat in on these meetings, I know that they’re looking at data all the time and making their best decisions, but it’s May 5th and it will be a couple of weeks before we know what happens with the trends. But I’ll turn it over to Miguel.
Miguel Cardona: (46:06)
Sure. No. That’s a good question, about class size during summer school. We will follow the guidance, CDC and our Reopen Committee, and it’ll likely be similar sizes to what we’re hearing about with camps.
Speaker 11: (46:22)
Is there any thought being given to having double sessions at summer schools and regular school during the regular school year where half the school come in in the morning and the other half would come in the afternoon?
Miguel Cardona: (46:37)
Yes. Those are things that are being considered. We have a lot of different options to consider, what works for students, what works for school communities. And what we want to do is be conscious of the fact that if we’re making decisions in some communities it has an impact on other communities, because we know that a teacher might teach in one community but have his or her children attend a school in a different community. So these are all things that we’re considering, split days, what impact that has, how much of it is distance learning, how much of it is school-house learning to be able to comply with the health standards.
Speaker 10: (47:14)
Speaker 11: (47:15)
Okay. Thank you very much.
Miguel Cardona: (47:17)
Speaker 13: (47:18)
Good afternoon, everyone. When will a decision be made in terms of when students will go back to school in the fall? And also will students in elementary grades… Will they still get a report card for this school year?
Miguel Cardona: (47:35)
Thank you. So the decision to reopen in the fall, it’s something we’re looking forward to providing based on the data that we have now soon. I mean, families need to know what we’re thinking about with regard to reopening schools. There’s a level of confidence that we have to make sure we provide for families to feel comfortable sending their children to school. That’s paramount. So we hope to provide projections of what we’re anticipating relatively soon. But again, this decision is going to be made with the input of education, the Reopen Committee, which is made up of educators from different areas and different types of educators, whether they’re administrators, district leaders or school leaders, classroom teachers. So that input will be taken into account and we want to communicate that as early as possible. But keep in mind that depending on the trends over the summer, that’ll determine the level of competence we have later in the summer to follow those plans. We’ll adjust as necessary. The health trends will really dictate the speed with which we return.
Speaker 13: (48:40)
What about the report cards for elementary kids?
Miguel Cardona: (48:40)
The report card, yes. Thank you. Yeah. Districts are reaching out. We know that just like graduations are important for high school students getting a final end of the year report from the teacher is something that’s really important. We’re encouraging districts to continue that. I know for my kids we get messages regularly on how they’re performing and what they’re doing well and we anticipate that there’s going to be communication on students’ grades at the end of the year. We expect them.
Speaker 13: (49:12)
And Governor, today, Hartford Mayor, Luke Bronin, was talking about seeing a spike in calls for cardiac arrest and there’s actually been a spike in the number of people who have died before they’ve made it to the hospital, and there was a thought that maybe people are afraid to go to hospitals if you’re feeling symptoms or maybe COVID may be related to these cardiac arrest. Is this something that you guys are keeping track of and is something that you’re concerned about?
Ned Lamont: (49:43)
I have thought about this. I was talking to a Dr. Albert Coe about this today. I mean, he made a very interesting observation. He says right now we have more testing capacity than people are using and we have more hospital capacity than people are using. And maybe we have to do a better job of letting people know you’ve got to go to the hospital before you’re dangerously sick. And we’re taking our testing, the mobile vans and the such, out to the community, get more people tested, those that may be even a little reluctant to be tested. So I have to do a better job in terms of public health education on that. So I am thinking about that. And that’s also part of the discussion about the elective surgeries because some of these surgeries are surgeries that cannot be put off and we do have the capacity to do more there as well.
Ned Lamont: (50:34)
Look. I think that’s probably the last question. Let me just say, end where I started. I mean our great strength as a state is our amazing education system. We have one of the great K-12 education systems in the country and we have people come from around the world to our universities and we want them to stay. We want them to sure that they know this is a place that they want to be. We’ve made a big effort in terms of workforce and what we’re going to try and do to make sure we’re training people for the jobs that are out there.
Ned Lamont: (51:05)
And so this is tough, saying we’re not going to have traditional learning between now and the end of June, but we are going to be leaders when it comes to non-traditional learning right now. And I’m not quite sure how long online learning and Zoom learning is going to be non-traditional. My instinct is it may be part of a hybrid plan going forward. And I’d like to think working with Miguel and Beth and our amazing team, Connecticut will continue to be a leader here as well. And to our parents and the kids out there, think about this as a new way to learn and this is not a lost opportunity. It’s a new opportunity. And that’s the way I’m going to think about it and we’re going to make sure that this summer and this fall, you’re learning at your very best. Thanks, everybody.
Ray Allen: (52:06)
What’s up fellow, non-MAGArs. It’s me, Ray Allen.
Michael Bolton: (52:09)
Christopher Meloni: (52:10)
Christopher Meloni here.
Scott Van Pelt: (52:11)
I’m Scott Van Pelt.
Javier Colon: (52:12)
This is Javier Colon.
Speaker 14: (52:13)
And we live in Connecticut just like you.
Scott Van Pelt: (52:14)
Just like you.
Ray Allen: (52:16)
I love my parents.
Javier Colon: (52:17)
Michael Bolton: (52:17)
Scott Van Pelt: (52:18)
My whole family just like you.
Speaker 15: (52:20)
We are all on the same team.
Javier Colon: (52:22)
And that’s why I’m listening to Governor Lamont when he says, “Stay safe, stay at home.”
Speaker 16: (52:27)
That’s the best way to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Christopher Meloni: (52:30)
So for each other, for one another, let’s protect each other.
Speaker 15: (52:34)
Here’s the game plan.
Scott Van Pelt: (52:35)
Wash your hands a lot.
Michael Bolton: (52:37)
And practice social distancing.
Ray Allen: (52:39)
I know these are difficult times, but tough times don’t last. Tough people do.
Speaker 15: (52:42)
This is Connecticut. We are all about winning and we’re going to beat this thing.
Javier Colon: (52:46)
(singing). Stay safe, everybody.