Branford town leaders are responding to calls for parents to reopen schools full time, awaiting a plan by superintendent Hamlet Hernandez and action by the Board of Education.
First selectman Jamie Cosgrove has led the town through the pandemic, a process which has included the shutdown, arranging for vaccines and regular meeting with town leaders. As such, he is looking forward to a reopening plan.
“I feel I have a unique perspective, not only as first selectman and dealing with other town leaders and other towns, but also having 2 girls in the school system and a wife who is a teacher,” he said. “I understand why we chose the hybrid model last summer. However after 5 months and being able to look at the data that we now have, and not seeing significant transmission in the schools, I feel its appropriate to have our kids back in the school learning and socializing.”
While parents have been hard on Hernandez as of late, the initial plan, implemented in September, did help to avoid a shutdown and minimize the impact of the virus. But since then there is significant amounts of new data; in the months since statistics from the state, surrounding towns and Branford are available.
Ray Ingraham, speaking for the Republican caucus, echoed similar sentiments.
“As we watch our neighboring towns reopen, we want to join with so many parents in requesting a reopening plan that includes seeing our students return to in-school learning 5 days a week this school year,” he said in a statement. “We know this is the goal of the Board and Superintendent, and we await the plan to see what so many of our neighboring towns have already done implemented here in Branford. Our children need to return to school; while we share concerns about the pandemic, we also see the emotional, social and education impacts on our students, and realize the long-term impacts of these.”
Parents pushed on February 24 for a reopening plan from the superintendent, and support from the Board of Education to make it happen. There appeared to be support from the BOE members, and a push for a meeting March 3.
Town officials do not determine what plan Branford Schools undertake; by law that is left to the superintendent and the Board of Education. But parents have been reaching out to many elected officials, seeking support to reopen sooner rather than later; should a plan not be presented and implements in March, the fear is that students will not return full time until the next school year.