July 31, 2020
It is hard to believe that tomorrow is August! Two weeks ago, we welcomed our PACES students to Camp Isola Bella for a wonderful time on the island. Since that weekend, several students have asked if they could return to IB. Last weekend, four elementary PACES students visited IB where they enjoyed time on the water, a delicious dinner, and of course, s’mores! We hope to continue this summer fun with more day trips for our students to IB!
Student Health Center
We continue to be fortunate that students and staff remain fever-free and our campus is free from COVID-19.
Re-Opening of School
Earlier this week, the State of Connecticut released three documents detailing plans for the re-opening of school this fall. To view these documents, please click here (Addendum 1, Addendum 2, Addendum 3). The release of these documents was in response to the requirement of all school districts to submit draft re-opening plans to the State last week (click here for ASD’s draft re-opening plan).
Based on this latest guidance, ASD intends to open for in-classroom learning this fall. Though these plans remain subject to change based on the progression of the pandemic over the next few weeks, we must remain responsive to the needs of our students while maintaining compliance with the latest recommendations from the CT State Department of Education, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Children and Families.
As you can imagine, the re-opening of school is a very difficult decision. We have been in continual discussions with the Department of Education, DPH and DCF, and we are following the latest guidelines. Though we cannot foresee what the future will hold, we aim to do what is in the best interest of our students, as well as our staff. We are taking great measures to ensure the continued health and well-being of both students and staff through the purchase of additional PPE, including face shields and clear face masks, the ordering of sanitization supplies (including sanitizing wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizers), as well as planning for appropriate classroom staging to allow for adequate social distancing. Excess furniture will be removed from all classrooms to allow for the spacing of 3-6 feet between desks. The option for remote learning will continue to be available for families choosing to keep their children home. Guidelines are being developed for parents to follow, to ensure their children are fully engaged in their educational journeys.
In an effort to maintain a safe and healthy campus, visitors will be prohibited on campus indefinitely. We will continue to cancel and postpone any events that would draw outside guests to ASD, and we will focus on the operation of our PACES and academic programs. Several schools have decided to cancel fall sports. We will follow this situation and make decisions accordingly. In addition, we are developing plans for the re-opening of our administrative offices. Office staff will most likely participate in a rotating schedule, alternating between working remotely and on-campus, to ensure that there is a presence of all departments on campus while also minimizing the number of people at school at any given time. These plans are in development and will be shared in the coming weeks.
While our Core ESY program concluded today, our PACES ESY program will continue for two weeks. At the conclusion of the summer program, several PACES students will return home until the start of the new school year. These students will be quarantined, in accordance with the current State of Connecticut travel advisories, upon their return to ASD and will participate in online learning during the duration of their quarantine.
We were notified that both the Montessori School of Greater Hartford and the West Hartford STRIVE program will operate fully in-person beginning this fall. Both programs will follow their own established health and screening protocols. Additionally, we have asked that participants in both programs stay within the confines of their campuses and refrain from entering ASD’s campus.
This is a challenging situation for any school, and many factors are being considered to make informed and appropriate decisions. As I have said before, we must remain flexible and adaptable to this ever-changing situation, and I will continue to keep you updated on the latest guidance we receive.
Within the past few weeks, ASD ran a simulated phishing security test to determine our vulnerability should a real phishing attack happen within our network. Phishing is the process of trying to gain access to sensitive information (such as usernames, passwords, and other personal identifiers) by pretending to be a credible entity. Phishing is usually done by sending bulk emails to avoid spam filters (please click here to view the test e-mail sent to staff).
Unfortunately, 24% of ASD staff clicked on the link in the test phishing exercise.
Cybercrime is getting more serious by the month. Hackers are getting smarter about tricking people into clicking on fraudulent links or opening malicious attachments in emails. It can happen to you personally on your own computer and email as well.
Because of this, ASD has decided to provide everyone with comprehensive security awareness training. We need to defend our organization against cybercrime, and security is everyone’s job. You are the last line of defense in keeping ASD safe.
We will be sending an email to invite you to participate in this training. In addition to security training, we will also continue to send simulated phishing tests regularly. Thank you for helping to keep our online network safe!
ASD recently invested in GoGuardian software to help keep our students safe on the Internet. As more of our students are accessing their classwork virtually, it is imperative that we establish infrastructures to help keep them away from inappropriate and/or potentially dangerous websites. In addition, GoGuardian allows teachers to engage with students, while receiving the information they need to keep students focused and on-task. If you have any questions, please contact Randy D’Angelo or Paula Morabito.
Support from Governor Lamont
Earlier this week, Governor Lamont released a letter in support of his advocacy on behalf of several disability groups. To view this letter, please click here.
Thank you for your continued patience as we navigate this challenging time. I look forward to joining back together with you in-person this coming fall. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. Enjoy your weekend!