Calling All Brothers Virtually Welcome Students Back to School

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Students in Hartford are heading back to school tomorrow, but as with every district, things will look very different for the first day of school and beyond.

That includes students missing out on an annual welcome from the community group, Calling All Brothers.

Pastor A.J. Johnson and other members of the group usually line up outside schools in Hartford on the first day to give students an upbeat welcome, but due to COVID-19, the group had to get a little creative this year.

In order to stay safe with COVID-19, Calling All Brothers created a video with some of the group's members and community members to encourage and welcome students back.

In an interview with NBC Connecticut, Johnson said the group is going to miss greeting students back in person.

"It's going to suck terribly not to be there to greet all of our scholars back to school. We're going to miss it. I mean, the guys really enjoy it and it really gives kids a fresh start to new school year," Johnson said.

He added that the group's commitment hasn't changed. The group previously said it spends the school year providing positive male role models to Hartford students and helps keep them engaged in their education.

Hartford Public Schools is starting the year off with the hybrid model meaning some days, students are in school and other days they're learning from home. Hartford Public Schools is set to begin classes on Tuesday.

New Britain Schools is starting on Tuesday after pushing back the start date by a week. The delay provided the district with more time to distribute laptops, space out furniture, and change some of the ventilation systems.

Whitney McGriff is a single mother of four who decided to quit her job to ensure her children were keeping up in school.

"Righ now, I want them to get them settled with the online schooling and make sure everything is taken care of with them," said McGriff. "I feel more comfortable doing online learning."

Michael Vernon has two daughters and is opting to keep both of them at home.

"It's definitely a concern of course with both of them not being in the classroom," said Vernon. "We just have to work with what we have and do the best for our family."

"It's going to suck to not be there to greet all of our scholars back to school, we're going to miss it," said Johnson. "Our commitment is still us being there with the children to mentor them throughout the year."

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