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Interim Region One School District Superintendent Lisa Carter (with her new dog, Gus) has been working on draft plans for the opening of schools in autumn. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Planning begins for return to school

FALLS VILLAGE — The Region One School District’s interim superintendent, Lisa Carter, has formed a Re-Opening Committee that is working on a plan to reopen the seven Region One schools.

Each of the six towns has its own elementary school; they share the regional high school, which is in Falls Village. The six towns are Canaan (Falls Village), Cornwall, Kent, North Canaan, Salisbury and Sharon. 

The committee consists of Region One staff, health professionals, school board members and members of the community.

In an interview at the superintendent’s office at Housatonic Valley Regional High School on Wednesday, July 8, Carter explained that the committee is working on a tight deadline. The plan must be submitted to the state education department by July 24.

A draft will be ready by July 17, which will give local school boards a chance to comment.

The committee has nine “task groups” assigned to the following areas: health and wellness, facilities operations (including food services), transportation, curriculum, technology, pandemic response, fiscal response, communications, and athletics/extra curricular activities.

Carter said the reopening plan is not subject to state approval. Rather, it is a way for the state education department to know what school districts are doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the plan is subject to change. “Just because we send a plan on July 24 doesn’t mean we’ll stop planning,” she said.

Carter, whose first full week on the job has been eventful, was asked about long-range goals.

She said she will focus on instruction, and try to capitalize on “better practices that emerge” out of the emergency.

Asked if online learning is going to be more prevalent in the future, Carter said she had trouble imagining a situation in which online learning was either exclusive or predominant.

“The social setting is equally as important as academics.”

Another focus will be community relations. Region One recently conducted three online surveys and received 550 responses from parents, about 220 from staff, and about 160 from students in grades five through 12.

Carter brought her 12-week old long-haired dachshund, Gus, to the office the day of the interview. Gus, an affable and intelligent dog, displayed a knack for untying a visitor’s shoelaces.

Although she is new to the top job in the region, Carter has been a teacher at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, the principal of Salisbury Central School and the assistant superintendent for Region One. She is the interim following the departure of Superintendent Pam Vogel, who is returning to her home state of Iowa. 

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