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PUBLIC HEARING: An Act Concerning Virtual Learning 

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: S.B. 977

MONDAY, MARCH 8, 10:00 AM

VIRTUAL LEARNING: METRICS & STANDARDS

There's little doubt that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the educational experience of children, the full effects of which might not be fully realized for some time. To deliver to students a desperately-needed sense of normalcy, House Republicans believe school districts throughout the state should to fully reopen as soon as possible with appropriate safety measures in place. Still, given the continuing uncertainty about COVID-19, it's possible that distance learning will remain a tool used by school districts. With that in mind, we believe the state's Department of Education has an obligation to do more to ensure Connecticut students can achieve the best possible outcomes. As part of our RestartCT caucus agenda, we've proposed legislation on the subject. Read more below, and we hope you'll consider testifying (either by Zoom or email) on an Education Committee bill (S.B. 977) in order to share your experiences and thoughts on how to improve remote learning.  

HOW TO TESTIFY

The Education Committee will hold a public hearing on Monday, March 8, 2021 at 10:00 A.M. via Zoom.  The public hearing can be viewed via YouTube Live.  In addition, the public hearing may be recorded and broadcast live on CT-N.com.  Individuals who wish to testify via Zoom must register using the On-line Testimony Registration Form.  

The registration form must contain the name of the person who will be testifying.  A unique email address must be provided for each person registered to speak.  Registration will close on Sunday, March 7, 2021, at 3:00 P.M.  Speaker order of approved registrants will be listed in a randomized order and posted on the Education Committee website on Friday, March 5, 2021 at 8:00 P.M. under Public Hearing Testimony.  If you do not have internet access, you may provide testimony via telephone.  To register to testify by phone, call the Phone Registrant Line at (860) 240-0420 to leave your contact information.  Please email written testimony to edtestimony@cga.ct.gov in Word or PDF format.  

Testimony should clearly state testifier name and related bill number (S.B. 977.)  The Committee requests that testimony be limited to matters related to the items on the Agenda.  The first hour of the hearing is reserved for Legislators, Constitutional Officers, Chief Elected Municipal Officials and State Agency Heads.  Speakers will be limited to three minutes of testimony.  The Committee encourages witnesses to submit a written statement and to condense oral testimony to a summary of that statement.  All public hearing testimony, written and spoken, is public information.  As such, it will be made available on the CGA website and indexed by internet search engines.

INFORMATION ON OUR ORIGINAL PROPOSAL

Candelora, McCarty to Propose Legislation Establishing Minimum Guidelines for Remote Learning

HARTFORD—House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora and state Rep. Kathleen McCarty, ranking House Republican on the Education Committee, on Jan. 13 said they will pursue legislation aimed at establishing clear minimum guidelines for remote learning for Connecticut students.

“While we hope that virtual learning is temporary, the reality is that the state and school districts have invested heavily into this virtual structure, and that, combined with the uncertainty of how long COVID will linger, means distance learning could be here to stay in some form or another,” said Candelora (R-86.) “That means we should do everything we can now to get it right for the future, to set baseline expectations as a means to help students achieve critical educational benchmarks while also preventing the opportunity gap between suburban and urban school districts from growing wider.”

  • Uniform minimum requirements to be set by the State Department of Education for distance learning that would require online classroom participation by students, while also requiring virtual settings to feature the same amount of teacher instruction time as classroom settings;

  • Minimum standards for students and educators for classwork as well as assigning grades for completed work;

  • State-supported teacher training in remote/distance learning;

  • In-person education for special needs students unless the school can demonstrate that their educational requirements can be met through distance learning;

  • The State Department of Education to provide periodic review of whether such minimal standards are being met;

  • Towns to use the first three snow days as traditional snow days with school off and allow subsequent snow days to be substituted for virtual learning that may be counted towards the school’s 180-day requirement.

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