The Board of Education heard good news on several fronts last night. Reporter Brian Fullenbaum says:
Meeting for the first time since 2020 in person, members began with an update from Westport Public Schools supervisor of health services Suzanne Levasseur. Staples High School has not experienced a COVID case since May 2, and there have been no reported cases in the district since May 25.
In fact, there were no cases at all in Westport this week.
At this point, local schools will not require COVID vaccines for the fall. The state is not expected to mandate them either.
Summer schools will have a nurse in the building this year, and masks will be needed.
Director of human resources John Bayers reported that for the coming school year, 112 sections are budgeted at the 5 elementary schools. As of June 3, confirmed enrollment suggested 115 sections. Principals of Kings Highway and Long Lots are also predicting one more section each, which would bring the total to 117.
Bayers speaks with the principals every day. All school buildings can handle the predicted extra classes.
Assistant superintendent Anthony Buono noted that Tri-State — the professional network of 55 area districts — said that while the district faced numerous daily obstacles during the pandemic, it provided students with a positive experience.
The board engaged in a long discussion about learning loss. Board members brought up the amount of screen time, lack of socially rich experiences, and frustration with technology.
In other matters, the board postponed a decision on a provision in the proposed “deadly weapons or firearms policy” about allowing a registered and accepted gun on campus. Members also discussed the hate-based speech policy.
Educators also established tuition rates for out-of-town students, including children of school employees and those in other circumstances.
Currently, 35 children of employees attend school here; the number is expected to be approximately the same in 2021-22. They are charged 25% of the tuition rate for various grade levels. A 3% increase for the coming year was approved.
World Language Department coordinator Marie Zachery described the success of Westport’s exchange programs in Singapore and France, and suggested expanding opportunities to Spain, Germany, Greece and Panama.
The board will move forward on a proposal to name the Staples stadium for former football and track coach Paul Lane.