Message from the ER9 Superintendent

Dear Friends and Families of the Easton, Redding, Region 9 Schools:

Summer Email Announcements from Each School Sent
I am pleased to announce that the principals and assistant principals of each of our five schools have sent their “summer packets” to parents, guardians and families today via email.  

These documents used to come through snail mail as bulky and slightly off-putting mailings.  Today’s versions include explanations of the schedules, lunch waves, opportunities to join extra-curricular clubs, letters from the principals, lists of important dates and a great variety of many additional details that must be shared before the year starts.

There is also information about how parents and guardians can use the PowerSchool Portal to sign off on documents and provide information the schools are required to collect or need to know.   (If you need help with this task, please use the www.er9.org website for phone numbers or email addresses so you can contact your child or children’s school directly.)

The Opening Plan
I know you are keen to learn more about our opening plan, and how we will deploy the layered mitigation strategies we must use to protect our children as well as to be compliant with the Governor’s executive orders and the directives from various agencies in Hartford.  Our Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Stephanie Pierson Ugol, is making adjustments and updating the plan in light of recent changes from the Governor and Hartford.  Parents and Guardians will receive the building-based plans in today’s communications from each school.

The District level Opening Plan will be adjusted in light of the Governor’s recent announcement about employees of public schools and others who work in the schools and the mandate that they be vaccinated or tested weekly if not able to be vaccinated.  As this was just announced yesterday, August 19, in the afternoon, we will be publishing the Opening Plan Monday with suitable changes for this and other last-minute directions from Hartford.   We reserve the right to make additional changes as the year unfolds.   Having said that, I am attaching the most recently revised version of the Opening Plan.  It is accessible at this link:  ER9 Opening Plan – 2021-2022 

Mask Wearing
In my message last Friday, I underscored the requirement imposed by Governor Lamont through his Executive Order 13A that all persons inside a school must wear masks at least through September 30th.   His order does allow for certain exemptions to be authorized, but such exemptions must come with written and signed authorization from health care and other professionals.   These are set forth in his Executive Order.  If you believe such exemptions might be warranted for your family’s unique needs, I suggest you read EO 13A and take what action you believe best.  To be clear, I think masks are an effective approach to limiting the transmission of COVID-19 in almost all cases.

I respectfully ask that you consider how other families might have situations that differ from the norm.  Could our staff or faculty or students or families be struggling with rare conditions, have an elderly relative living with them, or perhaps have diabetes or therapies related to cancer treatments or other life challenges that make them more susceptible to a virus?  Because we value the privacy rights of others, we cannot truly know.   Still, we all share the same air, and I humbly ask you to take that into consideration.

Screening Testing
I would also like to announce that the three districts will use the “Screening Testing” (also known as Pool Testing) service provided at no charge to the districts by the State.  Parents and Guardians will have the opportunity to sign up their children, but in no case will a child be tested in the absence of parent permission.   The screening testing will be conducted by trained testing partners who will come in a van to the school’s parking lot.  The tester will use a swab to gather an anterior nasal sample (i.e., from the front of the nose, not a “brain tickler”).  The family and school will be notified if a test comes back positive.  The students will have to come out of class in order to be tested, and a member of the staff will escort students to and from the vans.   Contingencies will be planned against inclement weather.  Most importantly:  The parents and guardians will make the decision about who is to be tested.   This would take place weekly.  More information will be shared in subsequent emails.

Vaccination Rates for 12 to 17-Year-Olds
Earlier this week the Danbury News Times published an interactive listing of the percentage of vaccinated students between the ages of 12 and 17 in each town or city in Connecticut.   Here are the numbers for Easton and Redding and the towns with which we are physically neighbors.   I truly respect the decisions made by families about their children, but I feel a duty to remind you that for almost all students from 12 to 17 a COVID-19 vaccination is an excellent means of preventing serious illness.   

Easton 59%

Redding 52%

Newtown 57%

Monroe 54%

Trumbull 63%

Fairfield 61%

Weston 73%

Wilton 76%

Ridgefield 71%

Danbury 53%

Bethel 63%

How can I learn more details about the return to school?
Parents and guardians, as you read through your individual school’s plans and summer materials, please direct your questions to the principals and asst. principals.   Even the administrators who are new have been through the last year albeit in Westport or New Canaan or other towns in Connecticut.  Their practical experience and knowledge gained last year will help us navigate this one.

Respectfully,

Tom McMorran
Interim Superintendent
Easton, Redding and Region 9 School Districts

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