HARTFORD, Conn. — Members of the Hartford community came together at Union Baptist Church Sunday to pray for a healthy and successful school year.
The service is held every year at the beginning of the school year but this year it held a very significant meaning amid the COVID-19 pandemic and students return to Hartford public schools.
"We knew we needed to pause and do something because it's going to be such a new and challenging school year," said Pastor Trevor Beauford of Union Baptist Church.
This school year began with an extra challenge in Hartford, with a cyberattack delaying the first day.
"The virus, the cyberattack did set us back. It completely wiped out some of our systems. We continue to recover and again it just requires that we have a deeper patience and collaboration," said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools.
Sunday, however, was about looking ahead with hope, thinking of the students and teachers, and what will help them succeed.
"One of our biggest hopes is that we're able to meet our student's needs wherever they are," said Torres-Rodriguez. "To be able to provide our students with the social and the emotional supports that they need. they have been impacted by so many challenges, our staff as well with their own level of loss and trauma and uncertainty," she said.
There was also a moment to think about parents, and the difficult decisions they face, deciding how their child will learn this year.
"We understand that it's a personal decision, it really is about their level of comfortability. Even though Hartford Public Schools we are following extraordinary to ensure the safety and that our buildings are clean," said Nuchette Black-Burke, chief of family and community partnerships for Hartford public schools.
Whether in-person or through the computer faith leaders said their hope is that students feel the sense of community and support rooting for them.
"It's so important for us at moments like this to say we're coming together with a central purpose and regardless of what you think personally we value education, and we value our children," said Beauford.
Leaders from Hartford public schools, the community, and churches around the city spoke at the event.