Winchester Superintendent of Schools Melony Brady-Shanley during her presentation of back to school protocols on Monday, Aug. 2.
Winchester Superintendent of Schools Melony Brady-Shanley during her presentation of back to school protocols on Monday, Aug. 2.

WINSTED — “All of what I can tell you can change tomorrow,” Winchester Superintendent of Schools Melony Brady-Shanley said at the beginning of her presentation on Monday, Aug. 2 at the Pearson School and via Zoom. “Things are changing, literally on a day-to-day basis. While I think that this is probably the direction that we are going in, I can’t promise you that tomorrow I will give you a different answer.”
Superintendent Brady-Shanley discussed with parents the Covid-related protocols that the Winchester School District will be undertaking at the beginning of the school year.
The first day of school for students for Pearson and Batcheller schools is scheduled to be Wednesday, Aug. 25, while both Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten programs are scheduled to have their first day on Monday, Aug. 30.
Brady-Shanley said that the school district did not have a single case of documented in-school Covid transmission during the last school year.
“That tells us that our mitigation strategies are working when kids are in school,” she said. “Right now, we have more than 90 percent of our staff vaccinated, which is a very high percentage compared to other school districts.”
Brady-Shanley told the audience that the goal for the school district this year is to have total in-person learning all year.
To achieve that, she said that the school district will have protocols and strategies.
Brady-Shanley said that one strategy would be for the school district to offer vaccination clinics to students ages two to 11 years old when they are available.
As of Aug. 2, Covid vaccines have been approved for use only for children 12 years and older by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, Superintendent Brady-Shanley said that it is more than likely that the FDA would lower the age requirements for vaccines during the upcoming school year.
Another strategy for the school district is requiring students and staff to wear masks inside of the school building.
“We have two camps right now: people who like masks, and people who are like ‘I can’t stand them,'” she said. “We have to balance that out right now. Right now there is an executive order in place from the governor that says in certain settings, schools being one of them, that you must wear a mask indoors. That is an executive order that is not up for my discretion. Until that executive order expires, masks are required in school.”
She added “this is subject to change, and this could change tomorrow. Things change moment to moment.”
However, students will not be required to wear masks if they are outdoors during physical education classes and recess.
“It’s really difficult to run and play on the playground, and be a kid, with a mask over your face when you are trying to breathe,” she said. “We will encourage during band classes increased distance between students. Our music classroom at Pearson is rather large and we do hold some classes outside.”
She added that the district would make accommodations for students who cannot wear masks due to medical issues.
Superintendent Brady-Shanley said that the Oak Street School, located at the former St. Anthony School building on Oak Street, will continue to operate during this school year.
The school district is leasing the school building to accommodate second and third-grade students and to increase social distancing between the school’s three school buildings.
She added that the school district would continue to offer free breakfasts and lunches for students during the school year.
The district started to offer free meals to students starting in 2019 which has been paid for through a grant from the federal School Lunch Program.