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Hartford holds in person convocation to kick off school year

“The major focus is around relationships and redoing and learning and using what we learned last year in order to renew and recover."

HARTFORD, Conn. — After an all-virtual convocation last year, Hartford Public Schools gathered in the Thomas Snell Weaver Auditorium for an in-person event on Thursday.

Nearly 200 parents, teachers, and staff from 39 different schools showed up for convocation. They were all masked and sitting at a social distance. The event was streamed live for people who wanted to tune in at home. Plus, the keynote speaker Zaretta Hammond, joined virtually.

"Making sure that from the beginning, we continue to keep ourselves and our staff safe," said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools.

Along with performances from student groups like the E.B. Kennelly School Premier Drumline and The Breakthrough Magnet School South Lady Royals, parents, staff, and teachers got a presentation on the new focus for the school year. 

“The major focus is around relationships and redoing and learning and using what we learned last year in order to renew and recover," said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez. 

The last year and half has been difficult for parents. One Hartford mom who showed up to watch her daughter perform at the event acknowledged the differences she's seen in her daughter once she moved away from virtual learning. 

“She struggled. She did struggle. My daughter is also autistic, so that attention span part was very difficult for her," said Latonya Robbs-Joseph.

Which is why the district really pushed to have both their convocation and class in person this year.

"I want to acknowledge that there might be some frustration, there might be some anxiety, some worries. I have those too," said Dr.Torres-Rodriguez.

The district is working on the mental and physical aspects of recovery.

In terms of vaccinations, the district is at an 86% vaccination rate when it comes to educators who are in contact with the students on a daily basis. For all staff district-wide, that number is sitting at 75%. When it comes to student vaccination rates, as of mid-August, 34% of kids in Hartford Public Schools who are 12 and up have gotten at least their first dose of the vaccine. A spokesperson for the district says those students will get their second dose when they get back to school. There will be more vaccination clinics at school in the future.


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