April vacation is still on for local school districts.
Wallingford Superintendent of Schools Sal Menzo recommended retaining the vacation to the Board of Education as a respite from at home learning. He feels distance learning has come with a new set of stressors and impacts on families and staff, who need to recuperate. The board voted unanimously to accept the recommendation.
“The board accepted it because they felt that staff and everybody would need somewhat of a break,” Menzo said.
Board of Education member Erin Corso said after guiding her children through online instruction, she agrees the break is needed.
“When we originally went to online schooling I thought to myself, ‘Well April vacation probably won’t be necessary anymore.’ However, having been home with my children, trying to school them online and working...I think April vacation is needed,” she said.
Students in Wallingford, Meriden and Southington start April vacation on April 10 and return on April 20. Cheshire students also start on April 10, but return on April 15.
Meriden and Southington will continue meal distribution through the break, while Wallingford will be handing out larger food packages to help families get through the vacation. Cheshire will not be distributing food through its break.
Menzo is taking part in a virtual meeting with State Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona today.Cardona has indicated he plans to address when schools may reopen, Menzo said.
Southington Superintendent of Schools Timothy Connellan said part of the reasoning behind retaining the vacation is the hope that school will resume and the instruction days will take place in the classroom, rather than at home.
“If there is any chance that our students will be back in school, even in June, it will be a huge advantage to have those five days in their classrooms with their teachers,” he said. “Also, our staff, our parents and our students have been working really hard in a way that is new and different for everyone. It is a good chance to regroup, use the time to catch up and take off a little of the pressure some folks are feeling.”
In Cheshire, the district has opted to shave three days off their previously scheduled vacation, giving students three days off plus the weekend.
Most state school districts are giving students the week off, said Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.
“They were up and running very quickly in terms of getting their teachers onto learning opportunities for students...It's been a new experience for everyone and not without its stressors,” she said. “So I think many of the superintendents, in checking with their administrators, teachers and families as well, felt that a break from the distance learning would be a good thing.”
Districts that had difficulty moving to distance learning quickly, often because of technology shortages, are more likely to cancel April vacation, Rabinowitz said. She thinks the experience will have a lasting impact on how education is viewed and provided in years to come.
“I personally wonder whether we'll continue to have snow days after this,” she said. “We’ll be so far along in knowing technology and working remotely, working digitally that I'm thinking snow days may be a thing of the past.”