Shortened Semesters on Campus and Full Fees for Room and Board as Connecticut’s Colleges and Universities Face a Steep Fiscal Challenge

UPDATE: Due to the need for consistency across the Connecticut State College and University System, Southern Connecticut State University will not be offering pro-rated fees for the fall semester, according to Patrick Dilger, the director of integrated communications and marketing at Southern. Students will be returning to campus in the fall at Connecticut’s four state universities, but in place of the usual crowds on move-in day, the packed classrooms and extracurriculars, students can expect instead a more gradula move-in, limited group activities, a mix of online and classroom learning and regular COVID-19 testing. The biggest change, according to Mark Ojakian,

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Land Trust Shutters Watch Rock Preserve on Weekends to Limit Vandalism, Littering

OLD LYME — Due to an excess of littering and vandalism, the Old Lyme Land Trust will close the Watch Rock Preserve each weekend from now until Labor Day. “We are so sad and frustrated to have to close this preserve, especially this year during the pandemic,” said Ann Gallaher, Chief Steward of the Old Lyme Land Trust. “But the large amount of trash, recurrent vandalism and campfires are too much for an all-volunteer organization to handle.” The parking lot gate will be shut from 7:30 p.m. on Fridays until 8 a.m. on Mondays. According to the Land Trust Board

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Connecticut Department of Public Health Rolls Back Mandate for Testing Nursing Home Staff

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is rolling back a June 1 executive order by Gov. Ned Lamont which mandated weekly testing of nursing home staff for COVID-19 for the duration of the public health emergency. The state agency has informed care facilities that they may forgo testing after two consecutive weeks without positive tests for nursing home staff and residents. “After two weeks of zero positives a facility can discontinue testing,” said Deidre Gifford, acting commissioner of public health and commissioner of social services at an Appropriations Committee meeting on Friday. According to Gifford, the guidance comes from the

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State Announces Full Reopening of Primary and Secondary Schools in Connecticut for the Fall

Required face masks for all pre-kindergarten through high school students, as much social distancing as is feasible and back up plans upon back up plans in preparation for a possible second wave of COVID-19 are hallmarks of the state’s plan announced today by the Connecticut Department of Education for reopening schools at the end of August. “This past school year was marked by disruption, next year’s school year will be marked by innovation and commitment,” said Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona. “It will be the most important school year for students and educators yet.” Although many educators and parents expected

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Two Norwich Tech Grads Confident in Tightened Job Market, New Apprenticeship

For many 2020 high school and college graduates the future feels uncertain. Finding a job or starting college during a global pandemic is far from a straight-forward decision. But for Chris Daley of Plainfield and Chance Weber of Lisbon, 2020 graduates of Norwich Technical High School, the opposite is true. “Knowing that I made ties with this company and I can stay with them and have a job right out of high school … I feel more prepared for the world,” Daley said. Daley and Weber are one and a half years into their four-year plumbing apprenticeship at Speirs Plumbing

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As State Officials Commission Study of Nursing Homes, COVID-19 Infections Slow

In the last week, just 61 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Connecticut, evidencing a drop in the spread of the virus among the state’s hardest-hit population. Of those 61 cases, one was diagnosed at Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehab Center in Chester, where there have been 31 cases, six were at Essex Meadows Health Center, where there are now 16 cases and two were at Apple Rehab in Old Saybrook, where there are now 69 cases. Between mid-March and mid-June, at least 9,720 residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities

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From 2016 Pilot Program to Graduation, ‘Dreamers’ Make Up 4 Percent of Student Body at Eastern, with a 3.8 GPA

In May, Evelyn Lemus Silva graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University as a Barnard Award recipient, the most prestigious undergraduate award bestowed by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. She was a biology major, has a research job lined up at Stanford University and plans to go to medical school in the future. She is also an undocumented immigrant. Silva, who entered the United States from Mexico at the age of 7, is one of the first 43 students to graduate from Eastern thanks to a scholarship from TheDream.US, a privately funded program that supports undocumented immigrants and those

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As Local Officials Await State Guidance, Legislators Voice Concerns About Fall Schooling

According to the Connecticut Department of Education, the 33 lowest performing school districts – known as Alliance Districts – also have had the least student engagement since schools across Connecticut were forced to close in mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19.  Complicating their mission, Alliance Districts also serve a disproportionate share of Connecticut’s “English Learners.” Every school in Connecticut, public and private, has its own COVID-10 story, some adapting to remote education with relative ease and others with more than 10 percent of students failing to participate at all in distance learning programs. As districts plan reopening for summer

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Grant-Funded Study Helps Prepare Connecticut’s 12 Community Colleges for Consolidation

About 75 percent of graduates in 2017-18 from the 17 institutions that make up the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system were employed within three months after graduation. But less than half of students who started a degree at one of those institutions finished there within four years, according to data provided by the state system’s Office of Research and System Effectiveness.  At Eastern Connecticut State University, for example, just 45 percent complete a degree within four years and another 10 percent complete a degree after transferring to another institution.  In an effort to increase the number of students directly

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COVID in Connecticut – By the Numbers

Yesterday, phase two of reopening the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic began with Gov. Ned Lamont allowing hotels, indoor dining, nail salons, fitness facilities, amusement parks, museums, zoos and aquariums to open for business. Lamont attributed the slightly accelerated pace of successive phases to the continued decline of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state despite increased socialization and travel since May 20. “We hit our peak on April 22 and are down about 90 percent since then,” said Lamont at a Tuesday press conference. “The positivity rate has stayed at or below 2 percent despite our increased testing with

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Bipartisan Women’s Caucus Rallies to Push Change After Thousands of Deaths at Connecticut Nursing Homes

HARTFORD — In response to the deaths of roughly 2,500 nursing home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut state legislature’s bipartisan Women’s Caucus is calling for change in the industry, at the state Department of Public Health and from the Office of the Governor in an effort to prevent a second wave from devastating this population again. Although Governor Ned Lamont released a request for proposals for an independent contractor to complete a review of procedures to address the COVID-19 pandemic inside nursing homes and assisted living facilities last week, the caucus is requesting that the review encompass much

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Failed Inspections, Deaths, Spark Few Changes for Nursing Homes Facing COVID-19 in Connecticut

The second part in a series on nursing homes. Read part one here. On May 12, Terry Bellucci decided to transfer her mom out of Apple Rehab Saybrook. At that point Bellucci had heard the center had one positive case and was calling everyone from the receptionist to the Governor’s office trying to make sure her mother, the other residents and the staff could get tested.   “They told me she couldn’t be tested because they only had enough for those who were symptomatic,” Bellucci said. “Even though she was in the most at-risk group, she couldn’t get a test at

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Nursing Home Deaths in Old Saybrook Point to Deeper Policy and Care Concerns Across Connecticut

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OLD SAYBROOK — Over the last three weeks, 69 residents have tested positive and 19 have died from COVID-19 at Apple Rehab, a 120-bed care facility. That’s 74 percent of the total cases and 95 percent of the deaths in Old Saybrook as of June 9, according to the Connecticut River Area Health District.  Although the results of a recent inspection, part of the state’s effort to inspect all nursing homes for deficiencies in health and safety standards during the COVID epidemic, are still pending, the facility has been cited and fined a number of times in the past. In

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Eastern Connecticut State University Launches Data Analytics Project to Localize and Inform Policy on Disease Outbreaks

Eastern Connecticut State University launched a project to better inform policymakers and the public about the impacts of COVID-19, and policies to slow its spread, on Connecticut specifically. The project, called the Eastern Institute of Data Analytics, will provide modeling and analysis on the current pandemic, as well as future outbreaks of disease. “Our goal is to provide information to the general public and to provide policymakers with analyses and insights that may shape decision making in the state,” said Yaw Nsiah, the department chair of health sciences at Eastern Connecticut State University. “While a lot of national health and

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Workers’ Compensation a Point of Contention for Essential Workers Facing Lengthy Recoveries from COVID-19

For years Denise Rodgers has driven the Yale-New Haven Health shuttle. She transports doctors, nurses and other health professionals from parking lots across south-central Connecticut to the York Street and St. Raphael hospitals. On March 17, before anyone was wearing a mask on her bus, as the health system was just identifying the first evidence of the pandemic in Connecticut, Rodgers and her husband fell sick. Both spent several weeks in Yale’s intensive care unit and after 48 days on a ventilator, after Rodgers had already been discharged, her husband died. According to Sal Luciano, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO

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Lamont Designates $2.5 Million to Rent Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants

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Nearly three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Ned Lamont designated $2.5 million to help families and individuals ineligible for federal CARES funding to help pay rent. The funding was approved by the legislature in 2019 in a line item for homelessness and rental assistance. “Housing is the single largest expense for most families in Connecticut,” said Seila Mosquera-Bruno, the Connecticut Housing Commissioner. “By providing rental support for families who are most in need and least able to access other forms of assistance, we can help them to stretch tight family budgets to afford other expenses including food, transportation to

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Doctors Urge the Public to Seek Help for Cancer Screenings as Sharp Decline in Care Means Thousands of Untreated Cases

In March and April just 97 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed throughout Hartford Healthcare compared with 233 cases in 2019. The stark decline holds true for digestive cancers with a 42 percent decline in diagnoses and breast cancer with a 30 percent decline in diagnoses compared to the same period in 2019. “If you don’t diagnose, you can’t treat,” said Dr. Peter Yu, physician in chief at Hartford Healthcare’s Cancer Institute. “We are going to diagnose these cases, but they will be much harder to treat when we do.” The concern is that a two to three month delay

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Eversource Reports Just Half the Usual Service Shutoffs for May — Moratorium to End on July 1

In May, just 68 businesses in the 149 towns across Connecticut that Eversource services disconnected their electric compared to 118 in 2019. Although it may seem counterintuitive, as many businesses are struggling to stay afloat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Eversource has suspended all involuntary customer disconnections due to missed payments since mid-March. “We’ve waived all late payment charges and began offering a special, flexible payment plan for any past due bills,” said Frank Poirot Jr., a spokesperson for Eversource. “We’ve also set up a special resource page on our website as well as an 800 number for business customers to

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Draft Guidelines for Summer Schools Across Connecticut Prioritize Local Flexibility

On July 6, school districts across Connecticut will be allowed to begin in-person summer school, according to draft guidelines released by the Connecticut Department of Education. But in contrast to nearly every other school closure decision made during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state will allow local and regional school districts the final say on whether to reopen for summer instruction. “July 6 is the first day we could be in-person. We’ve been discussing it since it was released last week and trying to determine what is feasible and what we can do by that date,” said Jan Perruccio, the superintendent

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Unemployment by the Numbers

In a typical week unemployment claims statewide for Connecticut sit at about 2,000. In the second week of March that number tripled. In the third week, new claims reached an all-time high of 78,304. But these claims also reflect complex economies and the disparate impacts of efforts to the slow the spread of COVID-19 as they are felt across categories of age, gender, education, industry and location. Those in the beginning of their career, between 20 and 29, have been hit the hardest by layoffs and furloughs across the state. Typically, an equal proportion of claims are filed by those

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As 378 of 400 Test Positive For COVID-19, Workplace Safety Fails Corrections Workers Across Connecticut

Each week Corrections Officer Brian Withington at York Correctional Institution is given one surgical mask. He is expected to wear the disposal mask through back-to-back 16-hour shifts in a facility with hundreds of positive COVID-19 cases. “We are expected to wear a surgical mask for 80 hours a week and they’re not even effective at protecting us,” Withington said. “Out of all the state agencies, the Department of Corrections is the one that has the most issues, the most cases, and yet we don’t have enough PPE.” As of May 26, 792 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 across the

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Inland Wetlands Approves Permit for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Turf Field

OLD LYME — The Inland Wetlands Commission approved an administrative permit for the proposed Lyme-Old Lyme Schools multi-purpose turf field on Tuesday evening in a 4-0 vote. The field would have a smaller footprint than the current grass field and, according to Megan Raymond, a professional wetland scientist for Milone & McBroom, will have no negative impacts on the existing wetlands bordering the Duck River. “There is a great deal of substructure to the field that encourages infiltration and minimizes runoff,” Raymond said. The proposed plan would add native wetland plants to the surrounding area and not require any fertilizers

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Five Things to Know About the DMV as Connecticut Opens for Business

With the phased reopening of Connecticut’s economy and government functions underway, many individuals across the state are wondering when the Department of Motor Vehicles will open its doors for tests, licenses and registrations. For now, the answer to most of those continues to be “not yet.” The department is expecting a substantial backlog of services required and tests that will need to be performed when they finally do reopen their doors. How that backlog will be cleared up, and whether that will require additional hours or staff, has not yet been decided. Here are five things to know about what

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Meet Ron Turner, New Facilities Director for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

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Ron Turner joined the staff at Lyme-Old Lyme Schools as the new facilities director at the end of February, just before the schools closed for COVID-19. “The first couple weeks I was off to a great start, meeting the staff and students, and then the sky kind of fell with COVID hitting,” Turner said. “I’m really hoping to meet everyone in the fall, I can’t underscore that enough. Since the shutdown, I think that’s what so many of us are struck by the most. Buildings don’t become a school until staff, students and members of the community are here. I

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Interest in Homeschooling Surges as COVID Restrictions Reshape Public and Private Education for the Fall

On May 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance to school districts about precautions that should be taken if they are to reopen in the fall. The recommendations include students and teachers wearing masks, not sharing supplies, keeping desks six feet apart, social distancing on school buses, requiring one-directional hallways, restricting visitors from the school, staggering arrival and departure times and routine cleaning of surfaces and supplies throughout the day.

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“The biggest hurdle is going to be the consumer,” says Lamont in Interview with CT Examiner

As the state begins phase one today of reopening the economy, in an interview with CT Examiner, Governor Ned Lamont said that he expects the return of consumers to be slow and making a profit to be a challenge for businesses across the state. “The biggest hurdle is going to be the consumer, but it’s a good thing that the consumer is cautious. I don’t want Wednesday to look like the end of prohibition,” said Lamont on Tuesday. “I think it is going to be tough, but you have to start somewhere, don’t you? People will build their confidence.” Over

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Juvenile Justice in Connecticut Copes with COVID, Sees Drop in Cases

Despite the free time many children and teenagers have during COVID-19 shutdown, the number of juveniles arrested, held in detention and referred to a regional juvenile review board has dropped during the pandemic. “In a lot of places, they just haven’t gotten a lot of referrals,” said Erica Bromley, the juvenile justice liaison for Connecticut Youth Services Association. “It could be for a couple of reasons. I do know in a couple of communities, police are now doing their best to do mediation on spot rather than just arresting the child. Why isn’t that done all the time is a

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Apparent Attack on Swans in Hadlyme Raises Questions About Beloved Invasive

To some swans are a serene fixture of the Connecticut landscape, to others the mute swan is an invasive nuisance causing havoc to the native ecosystem. “People think they are amazing, and beautiful and they are, but they are a problem,” said Judy Preston, the Long Island Sound Study Outreach Program Coordinator at the University of Connecticut. “They eat the emergent vegetation. They rip it up by the roots putting incredible pressure on native plants and they displace native waterfowl from our coves.” Today, an estimated 1,000 to 1,400 mute swans nest in the state’s inland and coastal wetlands, up

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