'A work in progress': Milford schools plan for reopening

MILFORD — September is just a few weeks away, and with the month getting closer, students, parents and school officials are finalizing their back-to-school plans.

Milford Superintendent Anna Cutaia recently stated that students will be back in school full-time and for the full school hours when school starts on Sept. 1. Cutaia said there would be a multi-point strategy to make the schools safe for students and staff to return.

Cutaia said school officials are keeping an eye on five factors to make sure students and staff are safe. They are health and safety of students and staff, social and emotional needs of students and staff, academic factors, resource availability and staff availability.

“When I enumerate this list, please know that they all work together to keep us safe,” Cutaia said. “Masks, social distancing, hand washing, cleaning of facilities, ventilation, use of plexiglass, the layout of our learning spaces, how we transport students, how we serve food, and use of technology. All of those pieces are in our plan. How they work together is what keeps us safe.”

Mask-wearing continues to be a topic of discussion, and school spokesperson Kathy Bonetti said the schools would take their guidance from state health and education officials.

“Administrators continue to receive information from the State Department of Education, the governor’s office and the Milford Health Department,” said Bonetti.

The last day of school is scheduled for June 14 however, if additional days are required for emergency/snow closures, they will be added to June but will not go beyond June 24.

During the 2021-22 school year, Milford Public Schools has scheduled a total of 106 days of instruction.

There are a number of early dismissal days for students that will allow for staff to have professional learning days. Those dates are Sept. 15, Oct. 17, Nov. 24 (early dismissal for both students and staff), Dec. 8, Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 16, April 13, May 18 and June 14 (the scheduled last day of school).

There also will be full professional staff development days, which means no school for students, on Nov. 2 and on March 9.

Cutaia, in a letter to school officials, stressed that the plans could change as the situation regarding COVID-19 changes and health protocols are revised.

“This plan is a work in progress. We will continue to work with the Milford Health Department to develop the necessary protocols to ensure the safety of all in our schools,” Cutaia said. “Milford Public Schools will continue to monitor community transmission rates and confirmed positive COVID cases in further creating plans for students and staff. If these indicators rise to a level deemed necessary for adjustment by the Milford Health Department, we will re-evaluate our plans.”

But remote learning is not on the table as an option at the current time, she said.

“Remote learning will not be an option for the 2021-22 school year as a choice for attendance unless the school district moves to a different instructional model based on public health conditions,” she said.

Regardless of how the state guidelines change, Cutaia said the Milford schools would continue to place the health of staff and students first.

“Our commitment to you will not waiver despite the challenges we may face in the coming months,” she said. “We will keep an eye on keeping our students and staff safe while continuing to move our district forward in educational innovation and improvement.”