COVID creativity: Connecticut districts swap teachers

Two school districts trade teachers temporarily, and will also share some equity training
By: | September 18, 2020
Meriden Public Schools Superintendent Mark Benigni (left) and Cheshire Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Solan temporarily swapped remote and in-person teachers to meet student demands in their neighboring Connecticut districts.Meriden Public Schools Superintendent Mark Benigni (left) and Cheshire Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Solan temporarily swapped remote and in-person teachers to meet student demands in their neighboring Connecticut districts.

A group of teachers in Connecticut’s Cheshire Public Schools were reluctant to return to the classroom because they feared they faced a higher risk of falling seriously ill from COVID.

The neighboring and larger Meriden Public Schools needed additional remote teachers to meet the needs of students participating in online learning.

The two district leaders couldn’t just loan teachers to each other, right?

Think again. Because COVID has forced administrators and their teams of educators to deploy outside-the-box solutions to unanticipated problems.


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With the support of local and regional teachers unions, Cheshire Superintendent Jeffrey Solan lent three of his teachers to Meriden’s online learning program. He got an in-person teacher, in exchange, from Meriden Superintendent Mark Benigni.

“Our teachers are ecstatic that they didn’t have to choose between their livelihood and their health,” Solan says.

The temporary teacher swap should also help Cheshire with its efforts to diversify its teacher corps.

As part of the exchange, Cheshire teachers can participate in an affinity group formed by Meriden’s teachers of color. Cheshire’s teachers can also receive some social justice training through a grant Meriden has received from the Nellie Mae Foundation.

Cheshire high school students will also be able to take some of Meriden’s remote AP courses. Cheshire high school students will also be able to take Meriden’s dual-enrollment courses with Middlesex Community College.

“The water is running hard and fast in our faces, and the question is ‘How do we spend less time fighting against the current and lean into the challenges and embrace them?'” Solan says. “We have to step outside and look around and see what other options are out there, even if they are things we thought we’d never consider.”


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DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.