Students in Darien returned to the classroom full time Tuesday after a month of hybrid learning, despite a request from teachers to wait a few more weeks. They say there isn’t enough space for all students to learn safely.
Joslyn DeLancey said her fifth grade students at Tokeneke Elementary School were happy to be back together, but she’s concerned they can’t properly social distance.
“As far as space and safety, there are so many questions about what is going to happen as this continues,” said DeLancey, who is also president of the Darien Education Association. She joined more than 100 teachers who rallied outside a Board of Education meeting last week to encourage the district to postpone bringing every student back to the classroom five days a week. She said there is no way students can be kept 6 feet apart while learning. She has 16 students in her classroom but said others have 25.
“Our safety standards are at a certain place, and there are less,” DeLancey said. “I don’t think it’s because they don’t want the safety standards to be better but that they can’t get the kids in school and honor those more cautious guidelines.”
DeLancey said it’s not that teachers want to return to remote learning or keep the hybrid model all year, it’s that the buildings feel too crowded.
“The safer they keep us really, the longer we can be in the building,” DeLancey said. “If we have a spread because some of the protocols aren’t as safe as they can be, that pushes us out of the classroom. Our goal is to be in the classroom, so when we push for safety that’s why.”
DeLancey said teachers need to keep being vocal about issues they see that could foster the spread COVID-19 so administrators can work to fix them. She said the consequences are too great for these issues not to be addressed.
Attempts to contact the Darien superintendent have been unsuccessful.