Waterbury public schools are transitioning to full remote learning effective immediately amid a rise in coronavirus transmission in the city, school officials said.
"We have done this out of an abundance of caution as we have seen COVID cases rise in the city," Superintendent Verna Ruffin said.
The transition will be effective from Tuesday, Nov. 17 until at least mid-January. From then, the hybrid learning model that was previously in place will continue.
A number of schools were already planning to transition to distance learning after Thanksgiving starting Nov. 30. These schools include North End Middle School, Wallace Middle School, West Side Middle School, Crosby High School, Kennedy High School, Wilby High School, and Waterbury Career Academy.
Students at Waterbury Arts Magnet Middle and High School, the elementary schools and Pre-K through 8 schools were planning to remain in hybrid learning. Now, all schools in the Waterbury school district will go remote.
"Transmission is occurring as more and more people are becoming more lenient in their personal lives outside of school," Ruffin said. The superintendent said she believes the rise in cases is mainly occurring outside the school system but is nonetheless impacting the city's schools.
"It makes my heart very heavy... We didn't change our minds overnight," Ruffin said.
The school district said the date of return to the hybrid model will heavily depend on local health trends and guidance from the city's Department of Health.
Staff will continue to report to their respective buildings and will be available to support students as well as collaborate with colleagues.
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All students will follow their same daily start and end times and will attend classes Monday through Friday, school officials said.
"We expect our students to log on and be participating just as they would if we were in person," Ruffin said.
Students who have been going to classes in-person will be able to pick up their belongings from their school building between Nov. 18 and Nov. 24.
Starting Tuesday, grab and go food services will be available to students at all school sites. Breakfast and lunch can be picked up between 9 and 11:30 a.m.
Comcast has donated prepaid vouchers for families who are in need of internet service and/or hotspots. Anyone interested in applying for Comcast's Internet Essentials Program can contact their child's principal, the school district said.