Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Sponsors

Town Offers Support to Abused Starbucks Employee

The statement said the town had been in touch with corporate bosses of Starbucks about the situation.

“Town officials have been in direct contact with Starbucks management to better understand the organization’s response and proposed future actions,” they said.

“We believe that the employee should be guaranteed compensation, job security and that his growth opportunity within the Starbucks organization not be hampered by his courage to speak out,” the statement said.

A corporate Starbucks spokesman said the company has banned the offending customer from its area stores.

The statement said the town had been in touch with corporate bosses of Starbucks about the situation.

“Town officials have been in direct contact with Starbucks management to better understand the organization’s response and proposed future actions,” they said.

“We believe that the employee should be guaranteed compensation, job security and that his growth opportunity within the Starbucks organization not be hampered by his courage to speak out,” the statement said.

A corporate Starbucks spokesman said the company has banned the offending customer from its area stores.

Police Reform Measure Passes House

A Republican amendment that would have stripped the bill of language limiting the qualified immunity against litigation now enjoyed by police officers failed on a rare tie vote, 72-72. The loss complicated chances for passage, since striking the language would have eased concerns of some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Black lawmakers were shut out of the first three hours of the debate as Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, the ranking Republican on Judiciary, quizzed Stafstrom in grinding detail about legislation drafted after extensive discussions by Stafstrom, Rebimbas and their Senate counterparts.

Rebimbas challenged Stafstrom on a key provision that would standardize training for police, requiring all courses to adhere to the standards set by POST, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. POST would have the the power to revoke a police officer’s certification, effectively barring them from the profession.

Officers decertified by POST would be fired by their police departments, Stafstrom said.

A Republican amendment that would have stripped the bill of language limiting the qualified immunity against litigation now enjoyed by police officers failed on a rare tie vote, 72-72. The loss complicated chances for passage, since striking the language would have eased concerns of some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Black lawmakers were shut out of the first three hours of the debate as Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, the ranking Republican on Judiciary, quizzed Stafstrom in grinding detail about legislation drafted after extensive discussions by Stafstrom, Rebimbas and their Senate counterparts.

Rebimbas challenged Stafstrom on a key provision that would standardize training for police, requiring all courses to adhere to the standards set by POST, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. POST would have the the power to revoke a police officer’s certification, effectively barring them from the profession.

Officers decertified by POST would be fired by their police departments, Stafstrom said.

BOE Dissatisfied with Reopening Plans

SHS officials defended their model, however, on the basis that teachers will need that extra time to interact effectively with the population of students who will remain at home doing distance learning.

A recent school survey showed at least 10% of families would be keeping their children home if school reopens full time in-person, but there could be as many as 17% who would do so.

SHS officials also said that the time taken from classroom instruction under the plan will still be used by students to complete work independently, so that in essence they’ll have more work homework.

“The school day does not end at 1:10,” said SHS teacher Stacey Delmhorst, who copresented the model of full-time in-school learning. “That has to be made very clear to the students and to the parents.”

“They might have a little more to do than they might normally have (outside the classroom), so the school day does not end, it just looks a little different,” she said, touting the opportunity for the increased independence and freedom that she said distance learning created this past spring.

“I need to be honest. It feels like the full in-person model is already starting off as a hybrid with the reduction of the real interaction with the teacher,” said BOE member Yuan Su Chao, raising the question of whether it could even adversely impact the district’s legal obligation to provide 900 hours of instruction throughout 177 school days next year.

“The thing we miss most is the real quality interaction with the teachers … I wish we could figure out a way of getting more quality instructional interaction with the teachers and students,” she said, noting this model feels “like a loss of instructional time.”

“I completely hear what you’re saying,” Delmhorst said. “I don’t even necessarily disagree, as a teacher.”

She said, however, that with 10 to 15% of the students still likely staying at home during an in-person reopening — taking part largely through live online feeds — this extra time provides an opportunity for one-on-one interaction with them.

“They’re still my kids,” she said. “They’re still in my class, and I can’t feel good if I’m not giving them that same equitable time.”

By today, Friday, each Connecticut district is required to submit three plans to the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) regarding schools reopening in the fall — one plan for a full reopening with in-person instruction, one for a solely continued distancing learning practice, and one for a hybrid model combining the two.

On Tuesday Miguel Cardona, commissioner for the CSDE, wrote a memo to Connecticut superintendents stating that — while each plan is required to be submitted — at this time the state will not legally recognize either the distance learning or the hybrid models as legally qualifying as school days if implemented.

“Current statutes do not anticipate that remote learning programming ‘counts’ toward the required number of days in school year,” Cardona wrote. “The CSDE expects to issue further guidance on this issue should it become necessary for districts to move to remote learning models in some capacity during the 2020-21 school year, should public health data require it.”

But Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice — who did not publicly mention the memo to the BOE — indicated that it would be a local decision whether Westport goes with one model or another.

“If it’s growing and spiking in the community, we can make a local decision in that regard,” he said, acknowledging that there would be both a formal tracing protocol and specific case-number guidelines in place before the schools reopened.

“I think the governor could do a directive and make a decision for the state (but) I also think if we had an uptick … we could make a decision to move to a hybrid novel,” said Suzanne Levasseur, supervisor of health services.

“I believe that could happen in either of those ways,” she said.

“I think they’re waiting to see what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks … so I think they’re reluctant to give information too quickly and then have to go back,” she said.

The question was raised of exactly how far apart students will be during transitions in the hallway, as well as in classrooms, but there was no direct answer.

“We really are in the process of taking a deep dive in every school,” Levasseur said, “looking at alternative places, and really being quite transparent about what we can and what can’t be done.”

“The plan is being fully developed, but it is not complete,” she said.

Several school officials noted, however, that creating the necessary social distancing at the high school is virtually impossible given space limitations.

“When we’re all full-in we were struggling to get the desks even three feet apart,” Delmhorst said.

“Social distance in the full open model is severely limited and likely not possible in most instances and areas,” BMS principal Adam Rosen said of the combined middle school, which will be in operation at least until early November, when Coleytown Middle School is due to reopen.

“Again, that’s not the only strategy … We have a number of other strategies in place as well,” Scarice said, to deter virus transmission.

“Full time in the middle school with this model, I don’t think it works,” said BOE member Lee Goldstein. “I don’t think it’s safe. I think it’s irresponsible.”

“This is a place where Westport has a very specific circumstance,” she said, questioning once again if obtaining a waver from the state weren’t feasible.

“It seems crazy to me to put all those kids in there,” she said.

“I don’t think you’re saying anything that’s not on the minds of the educators around the table tonight,” Scarice said, noting he couldn’t “in good conscience” endorse it.

He said, however, there was time before school starts to see how things would play out.

“I would just caution the board and the community (to) just be patient … I think we have to have a little bit of patience and see how things unfold,” he said.

“I think there will be some very substantive talks around the state about the mandate,” he said.

SHS officials defended their model, however, on the basis that teachers will need that extra time to interact effectively with the population of students who will remain at home doing distance learning.

A recent school survey showed at least 10% of families would be keeping their children home if school reopens full time in-person, but there could be as many as 17% who would do so.

SHS officials also said that the time taken from classroom instruction under the plan will still be used by students to complete work independently, so that in essence they’ll have more work homework.

“The school day does not end at 1:10,” said SHS teacher Stacey Delmhorst, who copresented the model of full-time in-school learning. “That has to be made very clear to the students and to the parents.”

“They might have a little more to do than they might normally have (outside the classroom), so the school day does not end, it just looks a little different,” she said, touting the opportunity for the increased independence and freedom that she said distance learning created this past spring.

“I need to be honest. It feels like the full in-person model is already starting off as a hybrid with the reduction of the real interaction with the teacher,” said BOE member Yuan Su Chao, raising the question of whether it could even adversely impact the district’s legal obligation to provide 900 hours of instruction throughout 177 school days next year.

“The thing we miss most is the real quality interaction with the teachers … I wish we could figure out a way of getting more quality instructional interaction with the teachers and students,” she said, noting this model feels “like a loss of instructional time.”

“I completely hear what you’re saying,” Delmhorst said. “I don’t even necessarily disagree, as a teacher.”

She said, however, that with 10 to 15% of the students still likely staying at home during an in-person reopening — taking part largely through live online feeds — this extra time provides an opportunity for one-on-one interaction with them.

“They’re still my kids,” she said. “They’re still in my class, and I can’t feel good if I’m not giving them that same equitable time.”

By today, Friday, each Connecticut district is required to submit three plans to the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) regarding schools reopening in the fall — one plan for a full reopening with in-person instruction, one for a solely continued distancing learning practice, and one for a hybrid model combining the two.

On Tuesday Miguel Cardona, commissioner for the CSDE, wrote a memo to Connecticut superintendents stating that — while each plan is required to be submitted — at this time the state will not legally recognize either the distance learning or the hybrid models as legally qualifying as school days if implemented.

“Current statutes do not anticipate that remote learning programming ‘counts’ toward the required number of days in school year,” Cardona wrote. “The CSDE expects to issue further guidance on this issue should it become necessary for districts to move to remote learning models in some capacity during the 2020-21 school year, should public health data require it.”

But Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice — who did not publicly mention the memo to the BOE — indicated that it would be a local decision whether Westport goes with one model or another.

“If it’s growing and spiking in the community, we can make a local decision in that regard,” he said, acknowledging that there would be both a formal tracing protocol and specific case-number guidelines in place before the schools reopened.

“I think the governor could do a directive and make a decision for the state (but) I also think if we had an uptick … we could make a decision to move to a hybrid novel,” said Suzanne Levasseur, supervisor of health services.

“I believe that could happen in either of those ways,” she said.

“I think they’re waiting to see what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks … so I think they’re reluctant to give information too quickly and then have to go back,” she said.

The question was raised of exactly how far apart students will be during transitions in the hallway, as well as in classrooms, but there was no direct answer.

“We really are in the process of taking a deep dive in every school,” Levasseur said, “looking at alternative places, and really being quite transparent about what we can and what can’t be done.”

“The plan is being fully developed, but it is not complete,” she said.

Several school officials noted, however, that creating the necessary social distancing at the high school is virtually impossible given space limitations.

“When we’re all full-in we were struggling to get the desks even three feet apart,” Delmhorst said.

“Social distance in the full open model is severely limited and likely not possible in most instances and areas,” BMS principal Adam Rosen said of the combined middle school, which will be in operation at least until early November, when Coleytown Middle School is due to reopen.

“Again, that’s not the only strategy … We have a number of other strategies in place as well,” Scarice said, to deter virus transmission.

“Full time in the middle school with this model, I don’t think it works,” said BOE member Lee Goldstein. “I don’t think it’s safe. I think it’s irresponsible.”

“This is a place where Westport has a very specific circumstance,” she said, questioning once again if obtaining a waver from the state weren’t feasible.

“It seems crazy to me to put all those kids in there,” she said.

“I don’t think you’re saying anything that’s not on the minds of the educators around the table tonight,” Scarice said, noting he couldn’t “in good conscience” endorse it.

He said, however, there was time before school starts to see how things would play out.

“I would just caution the board and the community (to) just be patient … I think we have to have a little bit of patience and see how things unfold,” he said.

“I think there will be some very substantive talks around the state about the mandate,” he said.

Friday, July 24, 2020


Westport Town Offices, Schools, & Senior Center are closed.
Noon – 4 p.m. – MoCA Westport – “Helmut Lang: 41.1595° N, 73.3882° W”
2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Westport Library – Open for limited services

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar

Letter: In Favor of Telehealth Bill

To the Editor:

I am writing to urge that the telehealth bill be passed by our legislature during the upcoming special session. For most before COVID-19, doctor appointments were accessible and easily scheduled. However, in our new reality many of our most vulnerable citizens will have to jeopardize their safety to attain the baseline level of care.

For those in rural areas, it is even harder. Litchfield, Tolland, and Windham, three of Connecticut’s most rural counties, rank the lowest in patient-to-doctor ratios. Furthermore, 35% of survey respondents in Windham said that lack of transportation caused them to miss at least one healthcare appointment.

Fortunately, Governor Lamont’s executive order has jump-started the process for the legislature by expanding access to telehealth since early March. However, this order will expire in September, leaving many with little to no safe options for seeing their doctors.

It is imperative that our legislature institute a permanent, continued version of telehealth at least until June of 2021. Establishing widespread telehealth will not only take the burden off of those that are at risk for COVID, but also develop a much more accessible system for doctors as well.

While some procedures require being in-person, many are also transportable to a virtual platform, such as tele-dentistry consultations. Mental health services will also be covered, thanks to the 2019 Mental Health Parity Act, which ensures that mental health and physical health are treated equally by insurance companies.

With this new bill, doctors will be able to book their patients on a more flexible timeline while still delivering the same quality of care. Our loved ones should not have to risk their lives to go see their doctors. It is for this reason that our legislature must pass the telehealth bill during their special session.

Violet Cooper
Westport