HARTFORD, Conn. — Schools in the capital city took another step on the road to recovery Monday morning as 2,600 remote learners returned to full-time in-person learning.
“It’s just easier to talk to teachers, get help, do things like that. The actual school experience versus just being online,” said Jayden Rodriguez, a senior at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy who has been learning from home for the past few months.
Hybrid learners returned to full in-person instruction in early March.
A total 10,300 of the 17,300 students in Hartford Public Schools will now be learning in-person full time.
Families that have health and safety concerns about COVID-19 or other circumstances that prevent their students from returning in-person on Monday can continue with remote learning.
“We hear from parents that remote learning does work for some students, but the majority of our students and families expressed that it’s been really hard and they really want their students to get back,” said HPS Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez.
The district said the opportunity for remote learners to return in-person was made in consultation with the Hartford Health Department and aligns with state guidance.
“Even when the numbers were significantly higher than they are today, our classrooms were not centers of transmission because wearing masks matters, washing hands matters,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.
Additionally, the district said all HPS teachers and staff who wanted the COVID-19 vaccine have received their first dose through a partnership with Saint Francis Hospital, and many are scheduled to receive their second dose this week. That includes a total of 2,193 educators, staff, and school-based partners.
As more students transition back to in-person learning, HPS will continue to enforce all existing safety measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus:
- Masks are required for all in-person PreK-12 students and staff. Face shields are available upon request
- Washing and sanitizing hands frequently
- Physical distancing of 6 feet to the extent possible, per CDC and state guidelines. The district notes that 6 feet cannot be maintained in all classrooms at all times
- Six feet of distancing in cafeterias
- Daily cleaning and disinfecting of school buildings
- Optimized ventilation systems
- PPE supplies are readily available in all schools for students and staff
- Buses will be cleaned after each trip and at the end of each day. Windows will be open. Eligible students have been contacted with bus schedules
Not everyone seemed to agree on the return of students - at least right now.
The Hartford Federation of Teachers said in a statement that they believe the return of virtual students to full-person should wait until the staff is fully vaccinated.
"That date is April 19. Rushing to bring students back any earlier places increased numbers of students inside classrooms that already cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance, as well as forces families who chose the virtual option to return their children to classrooms sooner than they may feel comfortable," the HFT said in a statement. "Although we agree that students benefit the most from in-person learning, that transition must be done with adequate notice to ensure the health and safety of the entire HPS community."
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