As school systems around the state announce temporary closures due to COVID-19 cases, Hamden is getting ready to open for the first time on Tuesday.
“We’re all anxious, we’re all nervous,” said Diana Theriault, Bear Path Elementary School PTA president. “I think they’ve done everything they can to get these kids back in school.”
Across the district, about 40% of students are opting for full remote learning, so classrooms like the ones at Bear Path are smaller.
Here, there will be about 15 students in each classroom, and they will stay together throughout the day. Classrooms have exterior building doors they will use to come inside, and there are specific bathrooms for each classroom.
Many teachers are pre-recording their lessons and will play them both in-person and online at the same time, so they can have more time to work with students at home and at school.
The physical distancing and hybrid learning vary a bit between each school in the district. For example, Hamden High School is a building made to hold 2,500. For high school students, two groups of 600 students will rotate two days a week making distancing easier.
“We’ve spent more money in transportation, we’ve spent more money on PPE we’ve spent more money on personnel,” said Hamden Schools Superintendent Jody Goeler.
Recently, the school district learned the state revised some of their CARES act funding as they prepped for the return, taking back $250,000.
“The one thing we’re not going to compromise on are issues around health and safety,” said Hamden Goeler. “So, whatever we have to do in those areas we’re going to do.”
Board of Education member Walter Morton IV says they are still opening safely, but the change in extra funding means watching their budget and reapplying when more funds are available.
“Not ideal to lose a quarter of a million dollars but we’re very well prepared to handle that,” said Morton.
At Bear Path this year, music classes will be strings and drums. And each student will get a backpack of supplies to cut down on sharing.
And there’s a COVID-19 isolation room for students who may have symptoms.
“We will look to see if we have to close a cohort or classroom or a grade or school, we will do that in collaboration with our health district,” said Goeler, referring to the Quinnipiack Valley Health District. He added there will be several people involved in those decisions when they happen.
“It’s gonna be a big adjustment, but it’s an adjustment that our kids can make,” said Theriault of this school year.
Ronald Dennis has three children, two are heading back to Bear Path. He says he’s concerned about his children catching the virus and how they could transmit it to adults as well.
“I’m more concerned about the teachers, the older teachers,” said Dennis. “They’re more concerning than the kids.”