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Waterbury readies for new school year as COVID-19 pandemic continues

West Side Middle School is expecting more than 900 students back to campus, which is up from 360 last year.

WATERBURY, Conn. — Duggan Elementary School principal, Melissa DiGiovanni is ready for the new school year in Waterbury. 

“We are excited to have all of our students in front of us, making connections, engaged, and fully participating in the learning this year,” she said. 

As the city’s schools get ready to open back up on Monday, FOX61 took a tour to see what’s being done to keep everyone safe.

RELATED: Connecticut parents petition for distance learning option as back to school approaches

“We spaced the desks out, we have sanitizing stations, we are going to implement extra hand washing, mask-wearing, those are some of the things we have put in place so far,” DiGiovanni said. 

At West Side Middle School, the new library media center will be spaced out with social distancing in mind, and the cafeteria tables that were once filled will now seat 5 students.

“My message to students, parents and faculty is that before educating them, my #1 priority is keeping them safe,” said West Side Middle School principal, Peter McCasland.

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Mask breaks and outdoor spaces will also be used across the district.

McCasland is getting ready to welcome more than 900 students back to campus up from 360 last year. 

“There is no question that students sitting in a classroom with their teachers, with their peers, will be much more beneficial for them not only academically, But more importantly socially and emotionally,” he said.

DiGiovanni said communicating with her students and parents will be key to a smooth start,

“We want to make sure that all parents and students feel safe, we want to check in with them, we want to let them know that we are here to answer any questions and concerns, and hopefully we will have a successful school year,”

Last year. 60% Duggan’s students were learning in person. This year DiGiovani is aiming for 100%. 

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