Over 500 Trumbull students, 25 teachers opt for remote learning

TRUMBULL — Whether they are in classrooms or at home, the number of students enrolled in Trumbull schools is expected to remain steady.

But nearly 500 of those students don’t plan on attending class in person — at least not yet.

“Our numbers have remained stable, which is not true of a lot of communities in Fairfield County,” said Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Budd. “Many of the other towns are seeing school enrollment declining.”

In a presentation to the Trumbull Board of Education, Budd laid out the current enrollment projections for the 2020-21 school year. Currently, there are about 6,540 students enrolled in grades K-12 for the upcoming school year.

While that is 145 fewer than the 6,686 that attended Trumbull schools last year, about 125 students are currently in the process of enrolling, which will boost the school population back to within 20 of where it was in June, Budd said.

The number of students who have been withdrawn from the school system to be homeschooled — 25 — is considerably more than usual, Budd said. Normally the number of homeschooled children in town is “negligible” Budd said.

The enollment numbers remained relatively stable across all the Trumbull schools. Currently there are 2,820 students enrolled in K-5 classes, with another 75 currently in the enrollment process. Last year there were 2,879 K-5 students in town.

Booth Hill and Daniels Farm schools are adding one section to their first and second grades, respectively. Booth Hill currently has 90 first grade students and Daniels Farm has 92 second grade students enrolled. By adding one section, the class size will be reduced from about 22 to 18 in each room, he said.

Combined, the town’s elementary schools are currently projected to have 144 sections, but that number could go as high as 146 once the late enrollments are added, Budd said.

In grades 6-12, the numbers are similar. The school currently has 3,721 students enrolled for the 2020-21 school year. That is down from 3,807 last year. But again, about 50 students are currently in the enrollment process and once they are added, the actual number of enrolled students should be within about 20 — 0.5 percent — of last year.

But if enrollment and class sizes are about the same, the number of students actually in classes will be lower.

As of Tuesday, 507 students currently enrolled in Trumbull schools have opted for full-time remote learning, about 7.5 percent of all students in town. The rate of students opting for remote learning is highest in elementary school, with 255 students — 9 percent — taking classes from home. At Trumbull High, 118 students — 5.4 percent — will be distance learning full-time. By Sept. 8, the scheduled first day of school, Budd projected the number of full-time distance learners could increase to 700 or more.

“We predict it will be over 10 percent,” he said.

The number of students expected to participate in full-time remote learning could match up well percentage-wise with the school system’s estimated 25 teachers who are opting not to return to the classroom this year because of concerns about COVID-19.

Budd said the schools were working to match remote learning students and teachers who are choose not to return to the classroom.

“Based on the laws, they could be entitled to work from home due to concerns about COVID,” he said. The schools are doing their best to accomodate requests to work from home, Budd said. Teaching remote learning students could be a way to ensure teachers who opt to remain home could have meaningful work during the year, he said.

The school system also has not yet made a final determination on one more contentious topic: extracurricular activities.

In an earlier presentation to the board, Interim Superintendent Ralph Iassogna had told members that remote learning students “may not” be able to participate in extracurricular activities like sports or clubs. Some interpreted that as a prohibition. Budd clarified that a final decision had not been made.

“We’re hoping to be able to open up these activities,” he said. “And many clubs will be meeting virtually this year.”