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Preparing for new school year

TCTC considers changes while looking for guidance from local districts, state

CHAMPION — Having to work with 20 school districts when planning for the 2020-21 school year can be a challenge, according to Trumbull Career and Technical Center Superintendent Jason Gray, so he and other career center officials already have been putting together options on what the next school year will look like.

Gray said many ideas have been discussed, but much will be determined by guidelines from Gov. Mike DeWine, as well as other state and county health officials.

Gray said much of what has been proposed may change when DeWine is expected to inform districts of how they will be operating for the new school year. That announcement could come this week.

Gray said one idea is for students to spend more time in their career labs so they can get hands-on learning, while having less time devoted to in-person academics, which can be done online.

“Right now a lot of the challenges boil down to the guidance from the state,” he said.

He said questions that have arisen include how to use the cafeteria and how many students can be in the building at one time or in the cafeteria at one time. Gray said ideas include having seniors attend on certain days and juniors on different days.

Gray said he has been working with Trumbull County Educational Service Center Superintendent Michael Hanshaw and Assistant Superintendent Robert Marino as well as superintendents from the 20 school districts that attend TCTC. He said officials have been meeting on Wednesdays.

“There are a lot of challenges when you are at the mercy of 20 school districts,” Gray said.

One idea was to end the school day earlier — such as 1:15 p.m. — and then have teachers take their lunch and planning period. Gray said he has to speak to the school districts on this because changes in busing would be involved.

Officials said if schools are open, changes could include adding plexiglass dividers, having hand-sanitizing areas, wearing of masks and moving through one-way hallways.

“It will be hard for all districts. Planning for next year will be a challenge,” Gray said.

Board President Cheryl Basista of Weathersfied said all schools have had a lot on their plates.

Board member Al Haberstroh of Southington said it is important when a plan is finalized to get it to the families and students so they know what to expect.

Board member Brooke Vondrasek of Bristol said it is important to make sure that before a plan is sent to the community, it is finalized and follows state guidelines.

“It is best to wait before sending anything out,” Vondrasek said.

In another matter, Gray said many seniors were able to come back to the school this summer and complete the hands-on learning they needed to complete their programs and also to take their required state tests to earn certifications.

Gray said the hands-on learning in the labs is critical and the reason more time will be spent in the labs for the 2020-21 year.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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