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Leveraging Community Partnerships To Build a City-Wide Plan

District and city partnership to create outdoor in-person learning spaces


Bringing students back for in-person learning was a key priority for Meriden Public Schools. One way the district helped to bring students back for in-person learning was to partner with community members, such as local health officials and city departments, to create a plan that effectively leveraged spaces outside of school buildings in new ways to allow for social distancing.

"The other thing that I think our partnership with our union showed us is the importance of partnering that same way with our local health officials, with our city departments, and our fire marshall. We're adding tents, and they're going to be close to the building. How close can they go? Where should those tents go up? The partnerships help ensure that we're not going to wait until it's too late or that we created a problem. We're going to involve community health partners in the planning process as well. So definitely the relationship with our teachers union and our health officials have allowed us to continue offering in-person learning. I think some of the partnerships that the pandemic encouraged us to have are just good practices as we move forward as well. With our health officials, our city manager, our fire marshall, our parks department - I think those partnerships can only be expanded and create great opportunities for our students." - Mark Benigni, Superintendent


In partnership with the health department, the fire department, the YMCA, and the local Audubon Society, Meriden Public Schools found unique ways to leverage public spaces, such as parks and trails, to continue sports, afterschool programs, other activities, performances, and outdoor classes. The fire department helped them to install tents, which were provided by a local festival, and picnic tables, which were provided by the YMCA, at all school sites that were up to code while the health department ensured that proper social distancing measures were in place. The district used these new outdoor spaces to hold classes as well as events.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.

Strategy Resources

Building Partnership with Union and Others to Create One "Meriden Plan"

Meriden Public Schools describes its collaborative partnership with the local teachers’ union and other community... Learn More

Working With Your Local Board of Health

While state and other authorities provided an initial round of direction and data regarding public... Learn More

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