jefferson elementary norfolk

School closed for renovation in Norfolk, Conn., may be needed to provide social distancing

Aug. 13, 2020
Jefferson Elementary is supposed to be closed for the next 2 years, but because of Covid-19, the district may need additional space.

Construction plans in the Norwalk (Conn.) school district call for Jefferson Elementary to be closed for two years as it undergoes a $33 million renovation, but officials say the building may need to be used this fall for additional space to provide adequate social distancing between students.

The Hour reports that the coronavirus pandemic has the Norwalk school board exploring space options to establish enough distance between students, who are expected to return for in-person learning in several weeks.

Depending on the number of students who choose to attend classes in-person, the district could need up to 18 additional classrooms.

City Councilor David Heuvelman says the latest information shows 80% of Norwalk families have responded to the district's request to re-register their children. He says 75% of them plan to have their children go to schools for in-person learning.

City officials say using Jefferson Elementary to create more social distancing space will not delay the building project, but it may require some juggling if the students remain on the campus through the spring.

"If we're looking at the fall semester, it has no impact on us at all," says Alan Lo, building and facilities manager.

Heuvelman says the school district is considering using Jefferson for overflow fourth- and fifth-graders.

The district has relocated Jefferson students to Ponus Ridge Middle School for two years while the renovation is done.

Lo was surprised by the possibility of Jefferson being used this fall, but he says only preparation work for construction was planned for that time.

"The completion date for Jefferson is in March of 2022, and Jefferson doesn't move back until September 2022, so we have time at the end of the project," Lo says.

He says this would present some challenges relating to the project and scheduling, but it wouldn't necessarily cause a delay.

Only teacher's belongings have been moved to Ponus Ridge; otherwise Jefferson is equipped and ready for students.

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