NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — The New Britain school district approached the new academic year a little differently this week, staggering the start of classes for their students entering new schools. Uniforms are also making a return for K-8 students, with some flexibility.
Teachers and staff welcomed back sixth and ninth graders Tuesday to give them a chance to find their bearings in middle school and high school respectively. Schools welcomed the rest of their peers on Wednesday.
"It was a great idea, the planning happened before I got here, to have an early half-day for 6th graders and 9th graders. They get to meet their teachers, they get to find where their classes are, they get to learn how to open their locker, all of those things that make 6th graders ad 9th graders a little bit nervous on their first day, they got a chance to practice all by themselves yesterday," said Dr. Tony Gasper, Superintendent of the Consolidated School District of New Britain.
And that's not the only change for New Britain students this year. Not only do they have a brand new superintendent, but they're also going back to a pre-pandemic policy: uniforms for grades K-8.
The Board of Education made this decision over the summer after hearing from a majority of parents who wanted to see school uniforms make a comeback.
But, they changed part of the policy to allow for more color options and create a universal uniform amongst all schools, instead of school-specific colors.
"What we hear from the people who really support the uniforms is, number one, it makes their lives simpler. So, parents don't have to worry so much about what's trendy and what's in fashion right now. They can really just focus on, 'what's the uniform?' There is some flexibility, there are some choices," Dr. Gasper said.
For one parent, the idea of uniforms takes away some of the social pressures she sees her child facing.
"There is a lot of judgment, even with my son in 5th grade, as young as that, and now he’s going into 6th so I’m sure there’s going to be more judgment and it’s probably a better idea to have uniforms," said Nicole Stevens, a New Britain mom.
The high school students, however, don't have to wear uniforms this year. They simply must follow the dress code.
But for most, it's not about the uniforms, it's about the first day and getting rid of the jitters that normally come with it.
"On the way here, he was very nervous, but seeing him leave with friends that he knew, made me at ease and happy," Stevens said.
Take a look at the district's uniform policies here.
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