After being home for nearly a year, pre-K through fifth-grade students made their way back to school across New Haven.
“It’s not been as much fun because it’s fun to be in school,” said Camila Guerrero, who’s in third grade.
“She’s been here at home a year now so she’s getting bored,” said New Haven parent Sridevi Venkatesh. “She wants to see her friends too.”
It’s a phased-in approach starting with pre-K through third grade in class four days a week, and fourth and fifth grades two days per week.
“Those are the groups that we think are so much impacted developmentally,” said superintendent Dr. Ilene Tracey.
Teachers were excited to see them back.
“It was emotional to see the little eyes popping out above the masks,” said Irene Logan, a literacy coach at Columbus Family Academy.
She said it’s up to the adults to set the COVID-19 safety example for students, adding she feels OK back inside the building after all of the inspections and guidelines put in place.
“I believe that I feel safe, as safe as I would feel anywhere else where there’s more than one person,” said Logan.
When it comes to protecting teachers with the COVID-19 vaccine, Tracey was told they’ll have to wait, even though all of their teachers have been uploaded to the VAMS system.
“We received information from the state that we should not yet distribute that information because they do not have enough of the vaccine on hand right now,” said Tracey.
And if a teacher contracts COVID-19 at school, they won’t have to use sick time. She added that they’ll work with teachers regardless of where they contracted the virus.
“We’ll take each individual situation as it comes to us.”
On Tuesday, while some of his classmates returned to school, 10-year-old Amadi continued remote learning. His mother said she was told in November that his school wouldn’t be able to help during an asthma attack.
“The nurse told me at that point that because of the severity of my son’s asthma and his allergies, they wouldn’t be able to accommodate him as far as his asthma action plan goes which is using a nebulizer,” said mom Nijija-Ife Waters.
CDC COVID-19 guidance for schools said using nebulizers should be minimized because there’s a risk with air particles.
“If a child has an asthma action plan and it’s part of the asthma action plan, they will receive that nebulizer,” said Dr. Jennifer Vasquez, the public health nursing director for the New Haven Health Department.
Vasquez said she wants to make the guidance clear on use, so they plan to hold meetings with parents since things have changed from the original November reopening date.
“We’re also in the process right now of planning a date to do a webinar for parents around all of these safety protocols because many of them were updated.”